What happens if an heir dies before the estate has been settled?

My uncle died without a will. A person who was set to inherit died before the estate could be distributed. What happens to their share of the estate?



Hope, BC

When someone dies without a will, they're said to have died intestate. When this happens, the distribution of their estate is based upon this BC law. Who gets what depends on who survives the deceased and in what way they are related.

The intestate estate will go first to a surviving spouse, and the deceased’s children (natural or legally adopted).

If there is no surviving spouse, the estate will go to the deceased's children in equal portions.

If a child died before the deceased, but themselves had children, then the portion the child would have inherited will go to their children when those children reach age 19. 

If there is no surviving spouse or descendants, the estate goes to the deceased's parents, then to their siblings, then to other next of kin. We explain these rules more fully here.

Now, to your question: what happens if an heir dies after the deceased, but before the estate has been distributed? The heir's share can go to their estate. The fact that the heir passed away before the money or property was actually given to them does not negate their legal right to inherit. The share the heir would have received should be paid to their estate and divided according to their will (or intestacy law if they had no will).

Jack Micner

Jack Micner

Spry Hawkins Micner 
  • Reviewed in April 2021
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada

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