An executor of a deceased person’s estate is responsible to settle the deceased’s affairs and distribute the deceased’s assets in accordance with their will. However, before the executor can distribute the deceased’s property, they may be required to obtain a grant of probate from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.
Obtaining a grant of probate is the legal process whereby the court determines the validity of the will and confirms the appointment of the executor in the will. Many financial institutions require this confirmation from the Court before releasing or transferring the property to the executor. Also, the Alberta Land Titles Office requires a grant from the court before giving effect to transfers of the deceased’s real property.
In addition to being responsible for distributing the deceased’s property, the executor is held accountable to the estate and its beneficiaries. The executor can be personally liable for loss to the estate if an asset is sold for less than its value or if the appropriate creditors are not paid. In certain circumstances, it is advisable for the executor to advertise for creditors prior to distributing the deceased’s property.
The executor must be cautious when distributing the deceased’s property and should not do so until they have first obtained a Tax Certificate from the Canadian Revenue Agency confirming no taxes are owed by the estate, and secondly, the executor has received signed releases from the beneficiaries. It is also advisable for the beneficiary to wait for certain claims periods to lapse before distribution to the beneficiaries to ensure no claims are brought against the estate by dependents, adult interdependent partners or spouses of the deceased.
In circumstances where the deceased died without a will, an individual can obtain a grant of administration, which is the legal process whereby the Court evaluates and confirms the appointment of that individual to be the personal representative of the estate. The administrator’s responsibilities under a grant of administration are similar to the responsibilities of an executor under a will.
Whether you are an executor named in a will, or an individual applying to administer the deceased’s property, KH/Dunkley Law Group can assist you with the application process to obtain the grant and advise you on your major duties as an executor or a personal representative. We will also take the time to explain the major areas of liability, and how to minimize them.
KH/Dunkley Law Group offers a range of estate administration services including reviewing the deceased’s will, preparing the documents for the application to the Court, advising you on any trusts required under the will, advertising for creditors and preparing releases and acknowledgments of beneficiaries, trustees and dependents. Further, after the grant of probate or administration has been issued, KH/Dunkley Law Group can assist you with the transfer of the real property to the beneficiaries or the executor, representing the executor in the sale of real property, and the sale of other property or businesses owned by the estate.
If you have been named as an executor, please contact KH/Dunkley Law Group to discuss whether you need will need a grant prior to distributing the estate, and how we can assist you in the matters relating to your application for a grant of probate or administration for the estate.