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Estate Administration and Probate - Estate Law

At Windermere Law Office, we understand the stress and emotion that results from the loss of a loved one. We are dedicated to assisting our clients navigate the estate administration process and are here to help reduce some of the burden placed on an Executor or Administrator whether you are applying for a Grant of Probate, a Grant of Administration or just need guidance on the next step.

What is Probate?

ANSWER – Probate is a legal process that establishes the validity of a Will. A Grant of Probate is an order issued by the Surrogate Court which verifies the Will as the deceased’s Last Will and Testament and legally authorizes the Personal Representative, also known as Executor, to act in the administration of the estate.

What if the deceased died without a Will?

ANSWER – A person who dies without a Will is said to have died “intestate”, the estate itself is referred to as an “intestacy”. If a Grant is required to administer the deceased’s estate, and the deceased passed away intestate, meaning without a Will, then an interested party with priority or with the explicit consent of those persons in priority to apply, must apply to Surrogate Court for a Grant of Administration.

Do I have to apply for a Grant of Probate or Administration?

ANSWER – A Grant of Probate or Administration is required in certain situations when the deceased owned property in his/her name only (sole ownership). If the deceased was the sole registered owner of real estate, then a Grant must be obtained in order for the Land Titles Office to transmit or transfer the property. Additionally, financial institutions have their own policies and procedures for when a Grant is required to deal with assets and investments of the deceased. It is always a good idea to seek the advice of a lawyer in assessing when a Grant is required.

ANSWER – It is important to note that the new Estate Administration Act came into force in Alberta June 1, 2015 requiring all personal representatives to send out notices to beneficiaries, family members and spouses of the deceased even though no application for Probate will be made. Forms can be found on the Queen’s Printer website.

Do I have to hire a lawyer to apply for a Grant?

ANSWER – Absolutely not! You can apply for a Grant of Probate or Administration yourself. Forms can be purchased from the Queen’s Printer website. The use of a lawyer to make these applications on your behalf can diminish the rate of rejections by the Clerk of the Court for insufficiencies in your application serve to take some of the burden off the shoulder’s of the Executor.

I am the Executor or the Administrator, what are my duties?

ANSWER – The Executor/Administrator has many duties. They must being their task with making funeral arrangements for the deceased. They must locate and review the deceased’s original Will, notify beneficiaries, financial institutions, Canada Revenue Agency and various other third parties of the deceased’s passing. They must account for, insure and secure the assets of the deceased, establish an Estate Account, compile taxes and prepare for the final Income Tax returns as well as apply to the Canada Revenue Agency for the final Tax Clearance Certificate prior to distributing the entire estate to the beneficiaries. The Personal Representative must also advertise for creditors and determine all legally enforceable debts prior to paying the same. The Personal Representative must also apply for a Grant of Probate/Administration if applicable, and distribute the required notices as per the Estate Administration Act if not applying for a Grant of Probate/Administration. Please note this is a non-exhaustive list.