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Executing the will of a family member or of a loved one is a complex job at a stressful time in your life. We are here to help you through the execution of your loved one’s wishes through the estate administration process.

Navigator Law LLP has extensive experience with wills & estates from estate planning and estate administration to processing a probate application or administration. Whether you are named the executor of a will or you are a beneficiary in a will, our estate lawyers in Calgary can be a valuable resource for legal services and support throughout the estate administration process.

What is an Estate?

Legally, an estate is defined as all of the property a person owns or controls. The property may be held in their name, in a partnership, a joint ownership arrangement, or even through a trust.

Estate property includes all real estate, physical and financial assets.

Estate Administration

When someone passes away, their will outlines who administers the estate. An executor is typically a family member or a friend, but can also be a trust company or a lawyer. If there is no will, an executor of the estate will be appointed as per Alberta (or other applicable) law.

The Executor Role

If you have been named the executor of an estate, you are responsible for administering the deceased’s estate according to his or her wishes outlined in their will and in accordance with applicable law.

The executor of the estate may be the same person as the agent for enduring powers of attorney and the personal directive

Why You Need an Estate Lawyer

Being named the executor is a big responsibility, it can be a time-consuming job, and comes with some risks. For example, if the estate is not distributed correctly, and your mistake ends up costing any beneficiaries of the estate money, you could be held liable.

Estate property includes all real estate, physical and financial assets.

The Estate Administration Process

1. Locate the Will

Most likely, the person who has passed away has previously let you know where you can find the most recent version of his or her will.

2. Obtain Probate

Probate is a legal process for validating the will and recognizing the authority of the executor to manage the estate. If there is no will, an application for administration will need to be filed instead of a probate. In either case, the process is similar. Once probate or administration has been granted, this verifies to third-parties that you are authorized to manage the estate.

3. Arrange the funeral and any immediate financial needs

The executor typically helps with arranging the funeral and arranges for any immediate financial needs, especially when there are any dependent children.

4. Valuating assets

Valuating assets is important since the value determines how much is paid in probate fees. The executor should keep records of the value of assets and reach out to third-parties to help estimating a value. An executor should also protect the estate’s assets, whether that is paying bills, cancelling credit cards, or feeding livestock on a farm..

5. Locate beneficiaries

Next, the executor must track down any beneficiaries named in the will. Depending on how complex the will and family structure of the deceased is, this might take a bit of detective work

6. Administering the Estate

Once the executor has an overview of the value of all assets and liabilities in the estate, the executor acts on behalf of the estate with government institutions. That might mean cancelling any government benefits or filing taxes.

7. Distribute assets

Lastly, the executor makes sure the right assets are distributed to the right beneficiaries as outlined in the will. The executor also needs to make sure the correct documentation and records such as release forms are collected in the Estate.

Types of Estates

Probate Estates

Some assets such as the balance of a bank account, real estate, and investments cannot be transferred to the beneficiaries in a will without court approval. The legal process for approving the transferral of these assets is called probate.

Non-Probate Estates

Other assets such as life insurance policies, tax-free savings accounts, and other registered accounts are typically non-probate estates

Estate Dispute Resolution

Estate administration can be a complex and emotional process, and sometimes conflicts arise.

Our law firm has extensive experience working with personal representatives (executors), beneficiaries of estates, trustees, attorneys acting under power of attorney, and other individuals who have specific interests in the execution of a will.

Navigator Law’s experience makes us an excellent choice when dealing with the full range of sophisticated dispute resolution mechanisms in the area of estate litigation and trust litigation. Our services include:

  • Breach of trust options
  • Challenging and defending the validity of wills
  • Estate Administration
  • Fiduciary Issues
  • Estate Administration

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an Executor control when and how much a beneficiary receives?

The executor must adhere to the wishes of the deceased as outlined in the will. However, sometimes the wording in the will is subject to interpretation, so there is some degree of executor discretion.

How long does it take to settle an estate?

In general, an executor has about one year to settle an estate. However, for complex estates, the process might take longer. Of course, long-term trusts extend beyond this timeline.

Are Executors compensated for their work?

Yes. Although rules regarding executor compensations vary, executors are entitled to a fee based on the value of the estate. The executor is also entitled to have any expenses associated with administering the estate reimbursed.

Is it possible to have more than one executor?

Yes, it is possible to name more than one executor of an estate. A common example is naming your children co-executors.

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We offer free consultations to potential executors and administrators. During the consultation, we can discuss the intricacies of an application, and provide you with clarification on whether a grant is beneficial or necessary in your particular case.

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