Probate and Estate Administration in Alberta
Has a loved one passed away recently and you require assistance with probating their will? What if they passed away without a will? How do you deal with their estate?
Estate administration can often be a time-consuming and complicated process that requires a careful legal eye. It will be important for you to carry out all the steps and follow all the necessary timetables to ensure that the wishes of the deceased are carried out and assets are distributed to the beneficiaries. You may also need to deal with creditors and Canada Revenue Agency.
Our law office can assist with all matters related to probates and estate administration, including contested Court applications, if necessary. That’s why we encourage you to reach out to us here at Safi Law Group by calling (780) 760-7234 or using our Contact Us page if you have specific questions.
Let’s cover some important basic information about probates and the estate administration process in Alberta.
What is Probate?
Probate is legalese derived from Latin and means “to prove”. When an individual dies leaving a valid will, their personal representative (formerly called an executor) will need to “prove” the will before they can take significant actions pursuant to the will. The proving is done by making an application to Court and submitting the will. It’s entirely possible that a personal representative may be able to handle all aspects of an estate without having to probate. However, for most estates, probate will be required.
Isn’t the Whole Point of Having a Will to Avoid Probate?
NO! The main point of having a will is to specify how your estate will be distributed, however, your personal representative will still need to go through the probate process before they can actually use your will in any significant way.
What Is Grant of Administration (aka Letters of Administration)?
When an individual dies without leaving a valid will, a close relative will need to apply to Court for a grant of administration before they can administer the deceased’s estate. The process is actually quite similar to probate however instead of using a will to distribute the estate, the personal representative will have to use the government legislated “intestacy rules” to distribute the estate.
What Steps Does a Personal Representative Have to Take to Conclude Estate Administration?
A personal representative will be responsible for many important tasks associated with estate administration.
Here’s just a glance at the tasks entrusted to a personal representative:
- Making funeral/memorial arrangements.
- Locating and notifying beneficiaries of their interests.
- Working with banks or financial institutions to itemize the contents of a deposit box.
- Determining the value of property and debts of the estate.
- Protecting and maintaining estate properties.
- Retaining an Edmonton probate lawyer to advise on estate administration.
- Applying for any pensions, annuities, death benefits, life insurance or other benefits payable to the estate.
- Arranging for the payment of debts and expenses belonging to the deceased or estate.
- Verifying or contesting debts.
- Checking claims and making payments as estate funds become available.
- Handling tax returns and obtaining CRA clearance certificate.
- Complying with the requirement for filing an acknowledgment of trustee(s) before distributing property.
- Providing financial statements and estate accounting to beneficiaries and obtaining final releases.
- Distributing the estate property in accordance with the will or intestacy rules.
Our experienced team can discuss all of these very important administration steps with you.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Grant of Probate/Administration and Conclude the Estate Administration Process?
Getting a grant of probate/administration can take between 8-12 weeks once the application is submitted to Court.
However, before the application is submitted, the personal representative will need to obtain full names, dates of birth, addresses etc. of close relatives and individuals named in the will. In addition, the personal representative will need to ascertain the assets and liabilities of the deceased, which can take some time. In some cases, banks and/or government organizations may be unwilling to disclose information related to the deceased until probate is granted. This catch-22 can be frustrating, however, there are ways to get around it. Contact our office now if you are stuck in this limbo!
In other cases, you may require a Court application to clarify a few things before an application for grant of probate/administration can be made. Our office has a history of obtaining positive results in Court applications related to estate administration matters.
Once grant of probate/administration is obtained, a personal representative generally cannot distribute any portion of the estate until at least 6 months have passed (with some exceptions, of course). During those 6 months, the personal representative may have to respond to any claims made against the estate by any eligible family members.
In any event, before any distributions can be made from the estate, the personal representative will need to pay off any creditors including Canada Revenue Agency and obtain clearances. Once all debts are paid off, the personal representative will need to provide financial statements and an accounting to the beneficiaries before the estate can be distributed and releases can be obtained from the beneficiaries. These steps can take weeks/months/years to conclude depending on the type of estate (particularly if operating businesses are involved).
Our office can provide legal advice to personal representatives and beneficiaries throughout the process.
What Are Core and Non-Core Services?
Core legal services are basic legal services that apply to the administration of most estates. These include preparing the application for grant of probate/administration, sending notices to beneficiaries, submitting financial statements to beneficiaries, obtaining final releases from beneficiaries and advising on distribution of the estate.
Non-core services are legal services that may be related to the administration of an estate, however, they are not considered basic. For example, the legal services associated with the sale of estate land would be a non-core service. Another example is contested court applications.
Both core legal services and non-core legal services are defined in the legislation related to estate administration.
Legal Fees for Core and Non-Core Legal Services
Most lawyers will charge a standard fee for core legal services. Safi Law Group offers very competitive prices for core legal services. Contact us now to get a quote. Non-core legal services are typically billed on the basis of hourly rates.
Call our office at (780) 760-7234, and we’ll gladly discuss specific fees with you.
Are There Cases Where Probate Is Unnecessary?
Yes, it’s possible to avoid applying to the court when there’s no cause for probate due to the simplicity of an estate.
An example would be when a surviving partner happens to be a joint owner of all assets. Another example would be when the only bank account in an estate has a really small balance. Depending on the bank, you may not need to get probate. A simple letter from a lawyer or an indemnity agreement from the bank may suffice.
In any event, it is still highly advisable to at least have one basic consult with an Edmonton probate lawyer before deciding whether probate should be obtained or not.
Get Legal Help with Estate Administration and Probate in Edmonton
Estate administration can become very complex if the will is challenged or a family member makes a claim against the estate. Further, the process can become wrinkly if minors are involved, beneficiaries are missing, or the will is unclear.
Don’t embark on the time-consuming and frustrating process alone, especially if you are still grieving the loss of a loved one.
Safi Law Group is here to help you with all aspects of estate administration and probating a will in Alberta.
Contact us by calling (780) 760-7234 or using our Contact Us page.
A will is a legal document that allows you to state your wishes for how your assets and property will be distributed following your death. Probate is a process where your personal representative verifies that your will is valid. This happens before they can take significant actions pursuant to the will.