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December 21, 2015 10:00 ET

Vancouver Litigation Lawyers Kushner Law Group Explains BC Estate Law in Relation to Spouses

Vancouver Litigation Lawyers, Kushner Law Firm Explains the Importance of Providing Adequate Maintenance and Support for Common Law Partners in a Will

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - December 21, 2015) - What is a marriage-like relationship? The term spouse has come under scrutiny in both estate and family law contexts, but when a spouse is recognized, he or she is afforded significant legal rights.

Section 60 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act allows for the Court in BC 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 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.

In the case of Austin v. Goerz, 2007 BCCA 586, the court cited 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.

It is advisable for anyone in a common law relationship to seek legal advice when preparing a will. A properly drafted will can help to protect an estate from legal challenges that may arise upon the death of the testator.

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