Spouse’s Share in No-Will Death

Jun 4, 2021

We’ll meticulously plan the details of our wedding day or our next vacation but, when it comes to end-of-life planning, many people put off writing a Will for years or even decades. And we get it—life gets busy. It’s easy to tell yourself you’ll “do it eventually.” For married couples, there’s also a common misconception that everything will automatically go to their spouse if they die. The reality is not so cut-and-dry.

In Alberta, if you die without a Will, the Wills and Succession Act determines how your estate is distributed. In most cases, the entire estate will go to your spouse or Adult Interdependent Partner (AIP). However, if the deceased’s children are NOT also the surviving spouse or AIP’s children (i.e. step-children, etc.), the estate will be divided between the spouse and children as follows:

  • 50% net value of the estate, or;
  • the amount of the preferential share set by regulation (see below).

According to Alberta’s Preferential Share Regulation, if the estate is $150,000 or less, the entire amount goes the spouse or AIP. If the estate is worth more than $150,000, the spouse or AIP will receive 50% of the estate, and the other half will be divided equally between the deceased’s children.

In cases where both parents pass away without a valid Will, and it would be up to the courts to assign guardianship for the children. By having a Will in place, you’ll speed up the release of your estate, save your loved ones time and money, and ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

Writing a Will is one of the most important steps in protecting the ones you love. If you have questions about our Timeless WillTM, or if you have a loved one who has died without a Will, we can help. Give us a call or email, send us a message in the chat, or fill out our contact form, and we’ll reach out to you!


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