Calgary Estate Administration Lawyers
Estate administration refers to everything that is necessary to wind up the assets and financial affairs after someone dies. Estate administration commences when a person dies and concludes with the transfer of the last of that person’s assets to the persons legally entitled to it.
Estates are administered by personal representatives (executors) who are usually people who were somehow connected to the deceased during his or her lifetime. Often, personal representatives are themselves beneficiaries and are more often than not related in some way to the other beneficiaries.
The Estate Administration Act defines the core tasks of a personal representative as follows:
- To identify the estate assets and liabilities
- To administer and manage the estate
- To satisfy the debts and obligations of the estate
- To distribute and account for the administration of the estate
Basically, a personal representative assembles the deceased’s assets, pays the debts and liabilities, income tax and estate administration tax and administration costs, and then distributes the remainder to the beneficiaries. The personal representative has a reasonable time to do so (normally, around one year).
Our estate lawyers can assist personal representatives with all tasks relating to the administration of a deceased’s estate. Depending on the circumstances, the administration of the estate can be simple or complicated.
Lawyers for Executor of Estate
There are several reasons for a personal representative to consider retaining a lawyer:
- The relationships among personal representatives, beneficiaries and other persons having an interest in the deceased’s estate can be quite complex. A detached, neutral lawyer will assist the personal representative in navigating these issues, and in managing these sorts of dynamics.
- Estate administration takes time. Experience has shown that over the course of the administration of an estate, the relationships among personal representatives, beneficiaries and others having an interest in the deceased’s estate can become quite strained. This can be mitigated by having an experienced lawyer communicate with everyone involved.
- The personal representative is under a duty to perform the role honestly and in good faith, in accordance with the deceased’s intentions, and with the care, diligence and skill that a person of ordinary prudence would exercise in comparable circumstances. This may a difficult task to especially considering, in the normal course, a deceased estate should be wound-up within one year. Legal assistance is critical to a personal representatives fulfilling their role in a manner that does not expose them to personal liability based on negligence of breach of a fiduciary duty.
- Lawyers advising personal representatives will be able identify legal issues relevant to an estate, including assessment of the testator’s capacity and whether dependants of the testator were adequately provided for in the will. There are also methods by which an improperly made will can be ordered effective, or errors or omissions may be rectified.
- There are also legal limitations on transferring assets to certain beneficiaries. For instance, where a minor is entitled to receive assets from an estate but no trustee has been appointed in the will, the assets must be distributed to the Public Trustee or to the person who has been appointed as trustee of the minor’s assets.
Alberta Wills and Estate Lawyers
Our wills and estates lawyers can provide a comprehensive assistance to personal representatives on every step in the administration of a deceased estate, including:
- Making the application for probate or letters of administration.
- Distributing the assets in the deceased estate.
- Locating all the deceased’s assets, including any assets which the deceased is not legally the owner of, but may have a beneficial interest in, by virtue of constructive or resulting trust principles.
- Recovering debts owed to the deceased estate. This may include claiming occupation rent or ejectment from persons in possession of assets belonging to the deceased, and claiming an accounting from anyone who has meddled with estate assets.
- Locating any possible creditors through advertisements, etc.
- Selling assets, including real estate, investments and personal possessions
- Locating and contacting all possible heirs, in and out of Alberta.
- Contacting utilities and credit card companies to notify them of the death.
- Filing a final income tax return.
- Paying off all debts.
- Keeping records of all steps taken to wind-up and distribute the estate, including steps to preserve and increase the value of the estate, for the benefit of beneficiaries.
- Negotiating and settling potential claims of beneficiaries, including for dependant’s relief.