Lawyers Who Help With Estate Administration
Estate administration lawyers, sometimes called probate lawyers or probate attorneys, have deep understanding of the estate process in Canada. When transferring wealth to the next generation, our Wills and Estates Group offers you a peace of mind in ensuring that your tax burdens are minimized, your wealth is preserved for beneficiaries and your intentions are carried out. If you have lost a loved one and are tasked with administering an estate, our team can guide you through the process to ensure that obtaining probate and distributing assets is as seamless as possible. Kahane Law Office, in Calgary, helps people whom find themselves administering an estate. Above all, our estate administration lawyers are compassionate and understanding of the stress that people endure in this role.
How Estate Administration Lawyers Help
The probate process can be extraordinarily confusing for most people. The probate attorney can take the executor through the process from start to finish and ensure that they do everything correctly and that are no problems with the dissemination of the will and benefits. The duties that estate administration lawyers take on vary based on whether the individual died testate (with a will) or intestate (without a will). The attorney will be able to advise the beneficiaries and the executor on all legal matters involving the estate. For example, they assist with:
- locating the original Will (if your loved one had a Will);
- ensuring that a Will is valid and legally enforceable;
- Locating assets – probate and non-probate;
- Collecting life insurance proceeds;
- interpreting bequests made under a Will;
- transferring the deceased’s real property to the estate or a surviving spouse;
- transferring the deceased’s real property to beneficiaries;
- notarizing and commissioning Wills and affidavits related to the estate;
- paying the debts of the estate;
- advertising for creditors; and lastly
- resolving contentious issues.
What Is An “Estate” Under Alberta Law?
Our estate administration lawyers help determine and locate the assets of an estate. The estate of a deceased individual includes all the things owned by him or her at the time of passing. For example, these include:
- certain bank accounts;
- business assets;
- jewelry; and lastly
Some things do not for part of the estate. For example, for the purposes of probate, Tax Free Savings Accounts (“TFSAs”), Registered Retirement Savings Plans (“RRSPs”) and life insurance with a named beneficiary are not part of the estate.
How To Transfer Estate Assets After Someone Passes Away
In Alberta, your estate may be transferred either according to your Last Will and Testament (“Will”), or, if you do not have a Will, pursuant to the Wills and Succession Act, SA 2010 c W-12.2.
First Steps As Executor When A Loved One Dies
If you are appointed as an executor, various preliminary required steps exist. For example, the “to do” list before administering the estate includes:
- locating and reviewing the Will for instructions regarding funeral arrangements;
- making funeral arrangements;
- obtaining an original death certificate;
- contacting all individuals who may have an interest in the estate;
- arranging for the care of any pets the deceased may have owned; and
- discontinuing any phone service, newspaper subscriptions, and forwarding mail.
In addition, you have a responsibility to safeguard the assets of the estate including:
- ensuring, if necessary, insurance for any valuable assets;
- notifying financial institutions where the deceased had accounts;
- arranging for the safekeeping of any valuables;
- ensuring the emptying and cleaning of the deceased’s home; and lastly
- re-directing utility bills to yourself as the executor.
Know executors routinely retain estate administration lawyers to assist with an estate. The estate covers the cost of the lawyer and it often relieves the executor of a big job and stress. In other words, the costs do not come out of the executors pocket or share of the estate.
To Probate Or Not To Probate?
When a loved one passes away, the deceased’s friends and family will have to determine how to manage the deceased’s estate. Often, the first step is to determine whether a Grant of Probate is necessary. Not all estates require probate. Our estate administration lawyers help you determine if you need to.
Applying for a Grant of Probate is the procedure where the Court confirms that a Will is valid and acknowledges the executor or appoints an administer to carry out the terms of a Will. When the deceased is single or widowed and owns certain assets in his or her name alone, such as land, applying for a Grant of Probate may be necessary. Probate may not be necessary if the deceased had less than $5,000 worth of assets, held all assets in joint tenancy or left assets such as TFSAs and RRSPs to beneficiaries.
Once Probate is granted, executors pay any debts and distribute the assets of the estate to beneficiaries. If Probate is necessary, a deceased’s estate may not be distributed to beneficiaries until the Grant of Probate is obtained.
Letters Of Administration
In certain situations, the Court may issue Letters of Administration rather than a Grant of Probate. Estate administration lawyers explain the reason why but these include when:
- a person dies intestate (without a Will);
- the will fails to distribute all the assets;
- a deceased had a Will but failed to appoint an executor; or lastly
- all the executors named in the Will have passed away, declined to act or are unable to do so.
Please note, with some wills, the drafting fails to address assets properly or completely. Therefore, in these situations, estate administration lawyers may be required to apply for both probate and letters of administration.
Steps After Obtaining The Grant Of Probate Or Letters of Administration
Your estate administration lawyers let you know when to move forward with administering the estate. Once you have received a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, you may proceed with administering the estate including:
- closing out any bank accounts and transferring funds to an estate account;
- closing out any safety deposit boxes;
- distributing personal belongings or any specific bequests to beneficiaries pursuant to the Will;
- determining if any creditor claims are valid and discharging any debts;
- paying all debts and settling legitimate claims prior to distributing assets;
- registering any bonds or securities in your name as the executor and determining if they should be held, sold or distributed to beneficiaries;
- transferring real property into your name as the executor;
- evaluating whether investments held in the estate should be sold;
- transferring employment, pension, retiree and health benefits; and lastly
- submitting any insurance claims.
Hiring Estate Administration Lawyers
When tasked with administering an estate, you may require ongoing advice about fulfilling your legal responsibilities. Our Wills and Estates Group are happy to guide you through the process to ensure you fulfill your duties with confidence. To schedule a consultation, you can reach us at 403-225-8810 locally or toll-free at 1-877-225-8817, or email us directly here today to contact us.