Estate Litigation Terms In British Columbia

Legal jargon can quickly become overwhelming–especially when you are already in a stressful situation. Klein Lawyers is here to help you understand some of the more frequently used terms* in British Columbia estate litigation.

Terms in British Columbia Estate Litigation | Klein Lawyers


A beneficiary is a person named in a will to receive all or part of an estate, or an individual having a beneficial interest in a trust created by a will.


A payable asset/interest under a benefit plan on the death of a participant.

Benefit Plan

Employee benefit plans which are to be inherited by a beneficiary including:

  • A pension plan or retirement plan
  • A welfare fund or profit-sharing fund
  • A trust, scheme, contract, or arrangement
  • A fund, trust, scheme, contract, or arrangement for the payment of an annuity for life or for a fixed or variable term
  • Retirement savings plan or retirement income fund
  • A tax-free savings account 
  • A pooled registered pension plan


 The court system in Canada. In the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, court means the BC Supreme Court.


All lineal descendants through all generations of the deceased.

Designated Beneficiary

A person who receives a payable benefit by a designation.


Property of a deceased person.


The individual named in a will who is to follow the directions of the deceased and to carry out the terms of the will.

Foreign Grant

The grant of probate, including letters of verification issued in Quebec, or a grant of administration or another document that is of the same nature issued by a court outside British Columbia.

Foreign Personal Representative

The personal representative to whom a foreign grant has been made.


To die without having made a valid will.


The process determining if a will is proved and accepted as valid.


A written statement, usually signed, made by an individual, that directs the distribution of their estate when they die. A will is only valid when it is in writing; signed by the will-maker; the signature is made or acknowledged by the will-maker in the presence of two or more witnesses who are present at the same time; signed by two or more witnesses in the presence of the will-maker; the will-maker is at least 16 years of age, and the witnesses are at least 19 years old.

Wills, Estates and Succession Act

The Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) is the British Columbia statute that has defined the legal principles regarding the making and validity of wills, the distribution of estates where there is no will, will’s variation claims, and the probate/administration of estates.

The former Wills Variation Act is no longer in existence and is now contained in section 60 of the WESA.


The individual who makes a will.

Wills Variation

A legal claim by a child or a spouse of a will-maker that has left inadequate provision for the child’s/spouse’s maintenance or support, to change the terms of the will

*Definitions have been adapted via the Wills, Estates and Succession Act.

Have questions or concerns about the wills variation process? Contact Klein Lawyers at (604) 874-7171 today for a free, confidential case evaluation. Our wills variation lawyers serve clients throughout British Columbia from offices in Vancouver, Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, and Surrey.