PROBATING THE ESTATE IF THERE IS A WILL
ADMINISTERING THE ESTATE WHEN THERE IS NO WILL
In Alberta, when an individual passes away, all of their financial assets are essentially “frozen” and access to them will only be granted by the affected financial institutions through the process known as probating/administering an estate. If an individual has a valid Will in place, the individual named as the executor is tasked with obtaining a Grant of Probate from the Court. Or when an individual has passed away without a Will, either an individual with an established right to “act” as executor, or the Public Trustee of the Government of Alberta, will be tasked with obtaining a Grant of Administration from the Court. In the case of a Grant of Administration, a formula exists under the laws of the Province of Alberta which helps to determine who can apply for the Grant of Administration. Oftentimes, it would be either the spouse of the deceased, the children of the deceased (if they are over the age of 18) or the siblings of the deceased. In the event neither of these circumstances apply or in the event, there is no family member eligible to apply as executor, the Public Trustee of the Government of Alberta may be appointed to distribute the estate.
Distributing the estate means, among other things, selling or transferring the assets (including personal property – furniture, vehicles, etc.) and/or any real property (house, undeveloped land) and dividing up the estate (what is called the “residue” – the proceeds from the sale of the assets/land and the “money” – bank accounts, investments, etc.), according to the terms of the Will or when there is no Will, in accordance with the requirements of the Wills and Succession Act. There are numerous other tasks associated with probating/administering someone’s estate and a few examples include filing the deceased’s individual’s current income tax return, filing the estate’s income tax return, paying any debts of the deceased from the deceased’s accounts, paying any income tax owing, applying for a death benefit, etc.