Common Questions

I think my relative died without making a will

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:

  • What Happens When You Die Without a Will, from the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, 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.
  • Common Questions on Estates and Personal Trusts, from the Public Guardian and Trustee, answers questions about estates where there is no will.
  • LSLAP Manual: Wills and Estates, 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.

See our related common questions:

Last reviewed April 2015
wills, estates, dying without a will, administration, intestacy