Surrogate Court For Wills and Estates Matters

probate; wills and estates; surrogate court; alberta; administration; executor

Surrogate Court

Dealing with the passing of a loved one is challenging enough without figuring out the probate and estate administration process. Acting as a personal representative, or executor, is a major commitment. You must follow the terms of the will, Court order or trust document. This often requires high attention to detail and consume a considerable amount of time and energy. Before acting as a personal representative, in the majority of instances, you will have to obtain a Grant of Probate through the Surrogate Court. The surrogate court lawyers at Kahane Law Office, in Calgary, are here to help.

What Is Surrogate Court

In Alberta, the Surrogate Court, also referred to as Probate Court, deals with the estates of deceased individuals. Surrogate court lawyers appear in front of the surrogate court judges. They also deal with desk (written) applications that judges review but have no court appearance.

Responsibilities Of A Personal Representative

A personal representative for the estate of a deceased person must:

  • paying for funeral costs;
  • Hiring a surrogate court lawyer for probating the estate;
  • collecting the assets of the deceased;
  • paying back taxes and debts owed to creditors; and
  • distributing the remaining assets and funds to all beneficiaries in the estate who are entitled to receive them including persons, trusts or charities.

Learn more about the roll and responsibilities of a personal representative or executor here.

What is a Grant of Probate?

Prior to attending to the assets of the estate, a personal representative must be formally appointed by the Surrogate Court. If there is a will, the personal representative named in the will can hire a surrogate court lawyer to apply to the Surrogate Court for a Grant of Probate. This proves the legality of the will in order to allow him or her to distribute assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will. A Grant of Probate is the Surrogate Court’s certification that the will the executor submitted is the last will of the deceased person and that it conforms with the legal requirements set out in the Wills and Succession Act.

Is it Necessary to Obtain a Grant of Probate?

In most instances, it is necessary for executors to obtain a Grant of Probate. Before releasing the deceased’s assets, financial institutions holding the deceased’s assets require the executor to obtain a Grant of Probate. Further, the Land Titles Office will not allow transfers of the deceased’s land/property or register any caveats, liens and mortgages against the title of the property unless the executor obtains a certified copy of the Grant of Probate.  This safeguards financial institutions and the Land Titles Office from liability for fraudulently disbursing funds or transferring property.

Our surrogate court lawyers do not charge to determine if you need to probate the estate or not. Determining this by phone or email (if needed) makes the process easy.

What If There Is No Will?

If a deceased person has not left a will, a personal representative may make an application for a Grant of Administration to be issued by the Surrogate Court. Once obtained, the personal representative can begin collecting and distributing the estate’s assets to the beneficiaries.

If there are other issues with the will such as the will being invalid or that the will fails to address all of the deceased’s property, the executor can apply to the Surrogate Court to obtain certificates similar to a Grant of Probate including:

  • Administration of Unadministered Property;
  • Administration with Will Annexed;
  • Administration for the Preservation of Property;
  • Administration During the Minority, Absence, or Mental Incapacity of the Personal Representative(s); and
  • Administration until Will is Found.

When Do I Not Need A Grant of Probate?

In some cases, the executor may not need to obtain a Grant of Probate. This occurs most frequently when a couple has devised an estate plan where all personal assets are held under their joint names and all real property are held in joint tenancy.

A right of survivorship exists with jointly owned assets and real property. This means that the surviving land owner or account holder automatically acquires ownership of jointly held real property and assets. On receiving a Funeral Director’s Statement of Death or an Alberta Vital Statistics issued death certificate, a financial institution holding the jointly owned assets typically removes the name of the deceased account holder. Upon receiving an Affidavit of Surviving Joint Tenant with an attached Funeral Director’s Statement of Death or death certificate, the Land Titles Office removes the name of the deceased from the title of the jointly owned real property.

How Can Surrogate Court Lawyers Help Me?

At Kahane Law Office, our surrogate court lawyers can:

  • advise you on what steps you need to take in order to speed up access to the estate;
  • review the will and your case to ascertain the requirement of a Grant of Probate or other certificates;
  • prepare the application to Surrogate Court to provide you with the authority to act as the personal representative of the estate;
  • assist with accurately identifying and distributing assets to all creditors and beneficiaries to mitigate against any claims against the estate; and
  • help you finalize the administration of the estate by preparing releases for the creditors and beneficiaries.

Help with Surrogate Court Applications

As a personal representative, navigating the probate process can be challenging and fraught with legal complexities. Kahane Law Office’s experienced team of surrogate court lawyers, have an in-depth understanding of wills and estates law. Consequently, they can guide you through the probate process in an efficient manner. If you are named as the personal representative for an estate anywhere in Alberta, even if you reside outside of Alberta, we can help assist you in matters related to probate. You can reach us locally at 403-225-8810 or toll-free at 1-877-225-8817, or email us directly here. For more information on the probate process, click here to watch our video.