Formal estate administration may be necessary in situations where the person who passes away is single (or widowed) and owns assets, like land, in their name solely. Where a person passes away leaving a Will, the personal representative (or executor) will need to apply for Probate. Probate is the procedure where the Court confirms the validity of the Will and confirms you, the executor, as the person who will handle the estate assets. This is also known as the Grant of Probate.
Where a person passes away without leaving a Will, the Intestate Succession Act is the law that governs the distribution of the estate. In this case, in order for you to handle the estate assets, you will be required to apply for Letters of Administration. The process is quite similar to an application for Probate.
Once Probate is granted, you, as executor, are able to pay the estate bills, and distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries set out in the Will. Upon obtaining Letters of Administration, the personal representative pays the bills and distributes the assets in prescribed manner set out in the Intestate Succession Act.
Probate (or Letters of Administration) granted in Alberta authorizes the personal representative to deal with estate assets located in Alberta only. In some cases the deceased will own land or buildings located outside of Alberta. Your lawyer needs to register the Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration) with the province or state where the land or building is located.
There are also income tax filing requirements that arise due to a person’s death. Tax returns are required to be filed to cover income tax due in the year of the person’s death. Further tax returns may be required to address income earned or paid after death. Canada Revenue Agency also has provisions where upon death a person is deemed to dispose (sell) their assets on the day of their death. This can create capital gain issues on investments and land owned by the deceased.
In many situations the estate administration is a straight forward matter. In some cases, complexities arise. Wills can be challenged based on lack of capacity or undue influence. Dependants may allege that they were not adequately provided for in under the Will. In those cases our firm can provide both litigation support and alternate dispute resolution services like mediation and collaborative dispute resolution to facilitate the completion of the estate.