Who is considered a spouse for purposes of administering an estate?
In BC a spouse may be either a person to whom the Deceased was united by marriage providing the spouse has not lived separate and apart from the Deceased for more than 1 year immediately before the Deceased’s death or a common-law spouse. As of November 1, 2000, the Estate Administration Act defines a common law spouse as a person who has lived with the Deceased, including a person of the same gender, in a marriage-like relationship, for at least 2 years immediately prior to the Deceased’s death. With the expanded definition of spouse, it is possible that more than one person may fit the definition of spouse. Should this create a conflict as to who has the right to make funeral arrangements, or to administer or inherit from an estate, it will likely be necessary to seek legal advice.