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Common Questions

I think my relative died without making a will
Last reviewed in February 2023 by the Clicklaw Editors.

Where a person dies without a will and they owned property, they are said to have died intestate. Their estate (everything he or she owned) is divided according to intestacy laws. Depending on the size of their estate, it may be necessary for it to be managed by an administrator, who must be appointed by the court. The surviving spouse and next of kin are given priority in applying to be the administrator of the estate.


Good starting points include:

  • When Someone Dies Without a Will, from People's Law School, describes how an estate is divided if there is no will, as well as the duties of the administrator.
  • Wills Registry Search, from the BC Vital Statistics Agency, explains how to find out if your relative may have registered a will.
  • Estate and Personal Trust Services Frequently Asked Questions, from the Public Guardian and Trustee, answers questions about estates where there is no will.
  • Dying Without a Will, from Nidus, explains who has legal authority to settle an estate and gives examples of how an estate must be distributed if there is no will.
  • LSLAP Manual: Wills and Estates Administration, from the UBC Law Students' Legal Advice Program, has a section on "intestacy" – where there is no will. It also has a section on "administration," the legal procedure that is required (depending on the size of the estate) where there is no will.

Need more help?

  • Lawyer Referral Service, from Access Pro Bono, offers a free, brief initial consultation with a lawyer to determine your legal needs. If you would like further help from your lawyer, you can retain them at an agreeable rate of charge.
  • Find more help near you on Clicklaw HelpMap.

See our related common questions:

wills, estates, dying without a will, administration, intestacy, filing for a grant of administration