Common Law Spouse’s Share in BC Wills & Estates

Spouses and B.C. Estate Law

Providing Adequate Maintenance & Support for Common Law Marriages in a Will

Section 60 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act allows for the Court in B.C. to make an order varying the will of a deceased person if the Court determines that they did not make adequate provision for the proper maintenance and support of a child or spouse. The term spouse has come under scrutiny in both estate and family law contexts as when someone is in a “marriage-like relationship”, their spouse is afforded significant legal rights.

The  discussion of what constitutes a spouse within the context of a common law marriage in the case of a Deceased person was recently considered by the British Columbia Supreme Court in the decision of Coombes Estate (Re), 2015 BCSC 2050. Although this case dealt with an earlier piece of legislation, the Estate Administration Act, the discussion regarding how exactly the Court determines who is a “spouse” remains quite relevant.

Determining Common Law Marriage in the case of a Deceased Person

The Court cited a leading decision of Austin v. Goerz, 2007 BCCA 586 and commented that some of the categories for consideration are: shelter, sexual and personal behaviour, the conduct of the parties with respect to carrying on their lives together, their social lives, how they were viewed by their friends and the community, and economic support. In the end, the Applicant in Coombes was successful in obtaining a decision that she was a spouse.

Related Information:

Wills Variation Lawyers in Vancouver

If you are a spouse or child of a deceased person and believe that you have not been adequately provided for in the will, please contact the Kushner Law Group at 604-629-0432 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.


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