Navigating the legal system is hard at the best of times, but we know it’s harder when you’re facing the loss of a loved one. Administering an estate is a lengthy process with many steps, and so we highly recommend that you have Nova help you. The steps include:
- Making funeral arrangements,
- Identifying, securing and dealing with assets,
- Obtaining court authority,
- Identifying and paying valid debts and claims against the estate
- Filing tax returns,
- Dealing with legal issues that arise, and
- Identifying, locating and distributing the balance of the estate to the rightful intestate successors and/or beneficiaries.
What is an “Estate”?
A person’s “estate” consists of all the things that he or she owns at death. Things such as a car, bank accounts, clothes, jewelry, and/or business interest – anything that he or she owns is part of that person’s estate. Joint accounts and beneficiary designation accounts such as TFSA or life insurance policies are NOT part of a person’s estate for probate purposes.
How is the estate transferred after you die?
Your assets that are in your estate can be transferred in two ways
- either in accordance with your Will, or
- if you die “intestate”, meaning without a Will the estate is distributed as per the Wills, Estates and Succession Act.
With a Will
When a person dies and leaves a valid Will, it is the responsibility of the executor, to handle funeral arrangements and administer the estate. The executor is a trustee, bound to act for the good of the estate. This is the case, even if the executor is also a beneficiary under the Will or has a personal interest in the estate assets. The executor must put the interests of the estate before their own personal interests. The estate is administered and distributed according to the instructions set out in the Will.
As a trustee, the executor is accountable to the beneficiaries. For example, the executor must keep records and give all beneficiaries a final statement of accounts.
In order to administer the estate, the executor must apply for probate. For more information please see our Probate page.
Without a Will
If there is no Will, then there is no executor. Instead someone has to act as the administrator. The Wills, Estates and Succession Act establishes the people who have a right to administer the estate when a person dies without a will, such as the spouse of the deceased, or someone nominated by the spouse or a child of the deceased. If there is no next of kin willing and able to handle this responsibility, then the Public Guardian and Trustee may consider administering the estate after an assessment determines whether their services are warranted.
In any event, one must determine how much the deceased’s estate might be worth. The purpose of this step is to determine the need to apply for a Grant of Administration. Generally, you do not have to apply for a Grant of Administration is the gross value of the estate is less than $25,000.
For more information please see our Grant of Administration page.
Service Areas at Nova Law
We provide services in the following areas:
- Applying for probate (when someone has passed away with a will)
- Applying for letters of administration (when someone has passed away without a will)
- Transferring assets held in joint tenancy
- Administering trusts
- Estate litigation
- Wills, trusts, and incapacity planning
How much does it all cost?
There are certain matters where we are able to charge a flat fee, such as a basic Will.
For more information on prices and cost, please contact us. What we can assure you with is that we can support you with straight-forward, efficient, and cost-effective legal services just when you need them most.
Who shall I talk to?
Our experienced lawyers and accessible support staff will make sure that executors, trustees, and beneficiaries are kept fully informed during all stages of estate administration. Please contact our offices to make an appointment. Use the contact options at the bottom of the page.