Little known facts about Wills and Estates in Alberta

Did you know? –

A beneficiary cannot inherit from a wills to which they or their spouses have acted as witness.

Wills must be in writing.

You can revoke a will at any time by destroying the document, or writing a document that says you want your will to be destroyed. This new document must comply with provisions of the Wills Act.

If there are no surviving relatives (next of kin) however remotely related, the estate passes to the provincial government.

Proceeds from a life-insurance policy naming a specific beneficiary belong to the beneficiary and not to the estate of the deceased.

A child born outside a marriage who has not been adopted may inherit from a natural parent who dies without a will.

Anyone who creates a will must have attained the age of majority and be of "sound mind."

When the individual who dies is a joint tenant in land or a joint registrant in investments, bank accounts, etc. with rights of survivorship, the property passes directly to the survivor, and does not become part of the estate.

A marriage revokes an existing will – unless the will states that it has been prepared in contemplation of that marriage.

A Divorce does not revoke a will.

It can be risky to administer an estate without the authority of a will or of the courts through a grant of probate. A person acting in accordance with the grant of probate gains legal protection from the courts.

When you die, unless there is a spousal rollover, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency will tax your estate as if you had sold all of your capital property – including stocks, mutual funds, business interests and real estate (excluding your family home). Income taxes also become due on any registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and registered retirement income funds (RRIFs) still held at death, as these are also deemed to have been cashed immediately before you died.