A Personal Representative (a.k.a. Executor or Administrator) is a person or Corporation named in a Will to manage and administer the deceased’s estate in accordance with the terms of the Will. A Personal Representative (PR) must act in the best interests of the estate and the beneficiaries.
Acting as a PR is a big job and it can be complicated, time-consuming and emotional. If you are appointed a PR, try to take it as a compliment. The deceased obviously thought of you as a trustworthy and capable individual.
Although the Will names you as the PR, it is not mandatory you act. You have the option of renouncing your role as PR. However, once you start acting as PR and carrying out PR duties, it becomes much more difficult to stop. You may have to apply for a Court order to release you of your responsibilities and liabilities as PR. It is important you understand the PR’s obligations and liabilities before accepting the role. Before deciding whether or not to act, it may be helpful to speak with a lawyer to decide how to proceed.
A PR’s core duties are outlined in section 7(1) Alberta’s Estate Administration Act. Here are some common PR responsibilities:
The Personal Representative is entitled to charge the estate a reasonable fee for the time and energy he/she spent carrying out the PR duties. In some cases, the Will may specify the amount the PR is entitled to receive. More commonly, the Will is silent on PR fees and the PR must determine what is reasonable. The amount of the fee will depend on a few factors:
Alberta lawmakers have set a guideline to help PRs determine what a reasonable fee might be. The guideline looks at the total value of the estate:
Value of the Estate Suggested Percentage
On the first $250,000 3% to 5%
On the next $250,000 2% to 4%
On the balance 0.5% to 3%
PRs have significant responsibility and potential liability when carrying out the estate administration process. It is important to seek legal advice before you decide if and how to act. We can help you navigate the estate administration process and carry out the PR duties in an efficient, responsible and cost-effective manner.