What happens when a beneficiary dies before the will-maker?

My grandmother passed away recently. She left everything in her will to her son (who is my father). He passed away seven days before her. Who gets Dad’s share now?



Sidney, BC

If a will makes a gift to a person who died before the will-makerthe law in BC says who that deceased’s person’s share should go to. 

The first thing you should do is to read the will. It may say what should happen if a specific beneficiary dies before the will-maker. These instructions must be followed. For example, the will might say "I give this share to my child, but if he dies before me, then to any of his children." In this case, the share intended for the will-maker’s child would go to that deceased child’s children. 

What if the will doesn't say anything about an alternate beneficiary? The law says if the deceased beneficiary was a brother, sister, or child of the will-maker, the gift would go to the descendants (likely children) of that brother, sister or child. 

Failing that, the deceased’s beneficiary’s share goes back into the residue of the estate. This is the amount left over after debts and taxes are paid and specific gifts are distributed. A will usually says who gets the residue, and how much.

If the language of the will isn’t clear, or you’re not sure about how the estate should be distributed, get legal advice. There are free options available. A lawyer can look at the will, and offer an interpretation.

Candace Cho

Candace Cho

Onyx Law Group
  • Reviewed in August 2020
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada

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