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New estate laws can affect your estate administration

Last year, some changes were made to British Columbia's estate laws. In an effort to modernize the laws and simplify the probate process for the public, the Wills, Estates and Succession Act took effect on March 31, 2014.

Known as WESA, the implementation of the Act involves new processes and different forms. Those who are administering estates for anyone for whom probate did not conclude before the aforementioned date can be impacted by these changes.

Those estate administrations and probates that were filed before March 31, 2014 are still covered under previous legislation. This includes the Wills Variation Act, Wills Act and the Estate Administration Act. Even when probate had not concluded by that date, those estate matters are not retroactively affected by the new changes.

Some process changes may be applicable, however. The applications for estate grants initiated before, but not concluded by the above date, fall into a transitional period. Therefore, while the previous legislation remains applicable to the will and all issues related to it, as well as for estate administration matters, the new probate rules must be followed when making applications regarding these issues.

Administrators must use new probate forms for all documents filed on or after that date. New forms can be downloaded from the Ministry of Justice website or obtained by your estate administration lawyer. Forms may either be filled out electronically and printed or copied and filled out by manually.

Those who filed a caveat previously may need to ensure that the caveat is still applicable. They may need to make application to the court in order to renew the caveat, which is also referred to as a "Notice of Dispute." Additionally, other changes could affect your administration of the estate.

Your estate administration lawyer can review your case and advise you as to whether the changes have any effect on your administration.

Source: ag.gov.bc.ca, "Important Information for Executors and Individuals Involved in Settling an Estate," accessed Nov. 20, 2015

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