Wills and Estates in Alberta

Will and Testament

If You Can’t Afford a Will, You Can’t Afford to Die!

Did you know that in 2012 the law regarding Wills & Estates changed dramatically in Alberta?

Did you know that these changes are retroactive?

A colleague of mine who specializes in Wills & Estates, Avideh Musgrave, had a lot to say about these changes to the legislation that could affect you. “Barry, how can people use Will Kits?! Don’t they realize the mess they could be leaving their loved ones?”

Ever being the calm voice of reason, I opined as to how most people just don’t understand all that goes into Estate Planning. “Avideh, they don’t know. They believe what the ads say. If you want them to know the risks they’re taking by using a Will Kit instead of an experienced lawyer, tell them!” This guest blog post does just that.

How Changes to Alberta’s Wills and Succession Act Could Affect You and Your Family

In Avideh’s own words…

If you already have a Will, you need to have it reviewed by a lawyer who is familiar with these changes. If you don’t have a Will…. what are you waiting for?

It has always been important to have a Will. Now it’s even more important. That is, it’s even more important IF you want to protect your family from economic loss and family disputes that can easily destroy relationships.

The day of considering a Will Kit has come and gone. (And it was never a good option in the first place). You will need to see a lawyer who is familiar with these changes.

There have been many changes in the law regarding Wills & Estates. It is beyond the scope of this article to address them all. However in my opinion, there are three that stand out the most.

  1. Changes Regarding How Marriage & Divorce Affect Your Will

  • Previously, marriage revoked a Will. Since the 2012 Act came into effect, marriage will not revoke a Will.
  • Previously, divorce didn’t revoke a Will. After the 2012 Act came into effect, divorce may revoke a gift to an ex-spouse.

*What does this mean to you? If you are getting married or divorced, go see a lawyer to get your Will done or to have it updated.

  1. Changes in the Category of People Who Can Make a Claim on Your Estate

  • Previously there were two types of people who could make a claim on an Estate: a spouse or Common Law (Adult Interdependent Partner); and a child under 18, or over 18 but who is mentally or physically disabled.
  • Since the 2012 Act came into effect, claims can also be made by: a child between 18-22 who is a full-time student or a grandchild or great grandchild who is under 18, financially dependant on the deceased, who lived with the deceased, and the deceased stood in the place of a parent for the grandchild or great grandchild.

*What does this mean to you? If you are involved with the above types of relationships, you need to see a lawyer to properly plan your estate.

  1. Changes that Directly Deal with Blended Families

By “Blended Families” I mean families in which one or both members of the couple have children from a previous relationship. Some of these changes include but are not limited to the following:

  • If you want your estate to go to your new partner/spouse and not your children from a previous relationship, then you need a Will (or have your Will updated) because otherwise it will not automatically go to the new partner/spouse.
  • If you don’t want your entire estate to go to your new partner/spouse, but shared with your new partner/spouse and children from a previous relationship, then you will need a Will (or have your Will updated) because there are new clauses that are needed in your Will expressing your intentions.

*What does this mean to you? If you are in a Blended Family, you need a Will, and any Wills made prior to this new legislation are out of date and not effective in following your intentions.

If you haven’t received my main message yet, then I will restate it:

Go see a lawyer who is familiar with these changes in order to make your Will, or to review your existing Will.



Get in touch today for help with Wills and Estates in Alberta.

“Last Will and Testament” image by Ken Mayer. Used under Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0