Western Showdown: WSA vs. WESA


Yesterday on the All About Estates blog, Diane Vieira wrote about Alberta’s new Wills and Succession Act. There are many similarities between Alberta’s new act and B.C.’s new Wills, Estates and Succession Act (not yet in force). Both new acts:

  • consolidate various estate-related laws including the respective dependents relief legislation;
  • give the court significant powers to rectify errors;
  • give the court power to give effect to wills not meeting formal requirements for execution; and
  • provide that a will is no longer revoked by marriage.

Significant differences are also evident, including the following:

  • Alberta’s WSA allows the court to consider extrinsic evidence of a testator’s intent in any circumstances, while B.C.’s WESA allows such evidence only to address ambiguity and in certain other specific circumstances;
  • On an intestacy where the deceased is survived by a spouse and children shared with that spouse, Alberta’s WSA leaves everything to the spouse while B.C.’s WESA gives the spouse the household furnishings, a $300,000 preferential share, and ½ of the balance of the estate;
  • Alberta’s dependents relief provisions now allow children up to age 22, and dependent grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to bring relief claims, while B.C.’s wills variation provisions allow all adult children to bring claims (even if fully independent) but shut the door to claims by subsequent generations (even if fully dependent).

There is one other major difference: Alberta’s WSA is now in force some 18 months after being passed, while in B.C. 30 months have gone by since third reading, and we are still waiting for WESA.