If you die without a will, BC’s Estate Administration Act dictates how your estate will be divided. It sets out the following rules:
If you own a home, your spouse will have the right to use it for life. This is called a "life interest" and can tie up the estate for a long time. Your spouse receives the first $65,000 of your estate. Then if you have children, your spouse and children share what’s left – equally if you have one child, and if you have more than one child, then one-third to the spouse and the remainder equally to your children. If you have no children, then your spouse gets everything. Children born outside of marriage are treated the same way as other children in the family. But step-children are currently excluded.
If you don't have a spouse, or if your spouse is dead, the estate goes to your children. If any of your children died before you, leaving their own children, then their children would take equally the share of your dead child.
If you have no children or grandchildren, then your parents (or the survivor of them) get the estate.
If your parents are dead, then the estate goes to your siblings, but if one of them has died before you and left any children living when you died, those children receive your dead sibling's share.
If all your siblings are dead, then your estate is divided equally among your nephews and nieces, but if there are none, then it’s left to your other relatives based on a table of family connections that shows how they are related to you.