Calgary Estate Administration Lawyers
Estate administration refers to everything that is necessary to wind up a deceased person’s assets and financial affairs. Estate administration starts when a person dies and often concludes with the transfer of the last of that person’s assets to the beneficiaries, who could be the deceased’s spouse, partner, children, friends, charities, or others.
In Alberta, estates are administered by personal representatives (called executors in other provinces). Usually, personal representatives are appointed in a person’s Will, or if they do not have a Will, then Alberta legislation directs who has first priority to be someone’s personal representative.
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; and
- To distribute and account for the administration of the estate.
A personal representative collects the deceased’s assets, pays the debts and liabilities, files income tax and estate administration tax returns, and then distributes any remaining amounts 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 the Personal Representative of an Estate
There are several reasons for a personal representative to consider retaining a lawyer:
- The relationships among personal representative(s), beneficiaries, and others involved in the deceased’s estate can be complicated. A neutral lawyer can help the personal representative handle these issues and manage these sorts of dynamics.
- Estate administration takes time, and it can strain relationships among personal representatives, beneficiaries, and others involved. Hiring an experienced lawyer to communicate with everyone can help reduce these strains.
- The personal representative is under a duty to perform the role honestly and in good faith, following the deceased’s intentions. They need to be careful and skilled in their role to avoid personal liability. Getting legal help is important for fulfilling this duty.
- Lawyers advising personal representatives can identify legal issues relevant to an estate, including assessing the testator’s capacity and ensuring adequate provisions for dependents in the will (if there is one). They can also help explore ways to rectify errors or omissions in the will.
- There are legal limitations on transferring assets to certain beneficiaries. For instance, if 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.
Alberta Wills and Estates Lawyers
Our team of experienced can provide comprehensive assistance to personal representatives at every step in the administration of a deceased’s estate, including:
- Drafting the application for a grant of probate (if there is a Will) or a grant of administration (if there is no Will);
- Distributing the assets in the deceased’s 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 possible creditors;
- 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 the deceased’s 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; and
- Negotiating and settling potential claims of beneficiaries, including for dependent’s relief.