Partner Nancy Ling regularly advises clients in the practice areas of wills, trusts, estate and incapacity planning, estate administration, residential and commercial real estate, property matters, corporate transactions and business law.
In this edition of Legal Matters, she discusses what happens to someone's estate if a person dies without a will and breaks down the Wills, Estates & Succession Act.
Many people do not have a last will and testament in place and you might be one of them. While I definitely recommend that everyone should have a will, I want to talk about what happens if a person dies without one. The government knows that people sometimes die without documenting their instructions and wishes and so we have the Wills, Estates and Succession Act which spells out what happens in this case.
Essentially if you die with a spouse and/or children, your estate is left to your spouse and children. Their respective shares in your estate will depend on whether you are a blended family or whether the surviving children belong to both the deceased and the surviving spouse. If you do not have a spouse or children then your estate will go to your parents if they survived you. If your parents are deceased as well then it is divided among your siblings and then your nieces and nephews and so forth. We call this method parentelic distribution; however some people would not want that kind of distribution. At the end of the day if you want to control who will inherit from you and how much each person will inherit you need to have a will in place.
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