Intestate Definition

Intestate definition: a person who dies without a will.

An intestate estate is an intestate’s property that is not distributed by a will. Any kind of property can be included.

When a person is intestate in Alberta, the court assumes that he or she would have wished for the estate to go to family. Family is considered spouses and adult interdependent partners and the deceased’s descendants. Unborn children (already in the womb at the time of the deceased’s death) are considered legal descendants.

In Alberta, the distribution of intestate estates is governed by the Wills and Succession Act. If there had been a will and there is reason for the estate to go through probate, someone will have to apply for a Grant of Administration in order to manage and distribute the estate. The Surrogate Rules list those who get preference to apply for a Grant of Administration. If there isn’t an appropriate person or corporation to manage the estate, the Office of the Public Trustee may do so.

Provincial legislation will determine what happens to an intestate’s assets. This may not be what you would want to happen, which is why it is best to make a will. Remember that, like all content on this site, this is just a general overview of what happens when a person dies intestate in Alberta and is not to be considered as legal advice. Talk to your estate lawyer about your unique situation.

Intestate: Define Who Receives the Property

In Alberta, the deceased’s spouse or adult interdependent partner can receive the entire estate if the deceased’s children are also the children of the spouse/partner. This is a recent change in law.

If an intestate has children that are not the spouse/partner’s children, the estate is shared between the spouse/partner and the children.

If the deceased person does not have a spouse or adult interdependent partner but does have children, the per stirpes rule comes into effect. This rule divides the estate into as many shares as there are children. The children of the deceased’s predeceased children can have their parent’s share of the estate.

If an intestate has no surviving spouse/partner and no descendants, Alberta law uses a parentelic system of inheritance. First rights go to the parents of the deceased, then the deceased’s brothers and sisters or their descendants. Following that, distribution would go to grandparents, their descendants, and then great grandparents and their descendants.

If there is no one to inherit the estate, it goes to the Government of Alberta under the Unclaimed Personal Property and Vested Property Act.


Words cannot express how grateful and thankful our family is for the attention and many hours of detailed work that was completed over the past year by J. E. Fletcher Professional Corporation to handle the execution of probate of our parents estate.
We are very happy our parents selected John Fletcher to fulfill all the legal requirements to get closure on this part of the estate settlements. Our family is in total agreement that our parents would have been very glad to know their wishes were looked after exactly as they requested and with no difficulties for any of us. It made our lives much easier.
Again thank you — we want you to know we appreciated all the support we received from you, John. We would definitely recommend J. E. Fletcher Professional Corporation to others who may require legal assistance and/or representation.

- The Basil and Bettie Bell Family