Estate Administration In Canada

 By: Austin Mark
When an individual dies, the assets owned by him must be located and protected. These assets are called as the deceased’s estate. The debts of the deceased must be paid out of the estate assets. After the debts have been paid from the estate, whatever remains can then be distributed among the beneficiaries named in the deceased’s will or according to the provincial law of intestacy. When an individual dies without a will, he is said to have died intestate.

What is an Estate Trustee?

Generally, when a person dies, he or she has all types of property and possessions. The estate trustee is the individual responsible for dividing this property among the deceased heirs. There are two ways, in general, that people can inherit from a deceased. First, if the deceased had a will, that will sets out who is to inherit and what they are to inherit. Second, if the deceased died without a will, he or she is said to have died intestate.

Personal Representative

“Personal representative” is a general term for a person who administers an estate. It includes both executor and administrator. An executor draws his power from the bill while in order to become an administrator it is necessary to make an application to the court. In plain language, the term "personal representative" includes executors (where a will names an executor) and administrators (where a person dies intestate, or an executor declines, and the court must name someone to administer the estate). The office of personal representative is voluntary. Even if one is named in a will as executor, one can decline (by a process called "renunciation").

A personal representative is under a duty to take possession of the assets, pay the debts, look after insurance matters and keep proper accounts. The personal representative stands as way station between the deceased and the beneficiary. Legally, the title to property goes from the deceased to the personal representative (as trustee for the beneficiaries) and then to the beneficiaries. However, it is pertinent to note that there are certain exceptions to this such as joint property and RRSPs or insurance policies with named beneficiaries. Property in these cases are transferred automatically on death and do not depend on probate.

Administration of an Estate

Once an estate trustee obtains a certificate of appointment, it is his/her duty to administer the deceased’s estate. primarily, the estate trustee is supposed to determine what assets belongs to that estate which includes all assets owned by the deceased in the deceased’s name alone and any interest that the deceased might have had in the property owned jointly with someone else.

Having decided what is and what is not part of the estate, the estate trustee should take the following steps:

1. Gather the assets of the estate
2. Administer or manage the estate
3. Realize the estate
4. Making arrangements for the funeral.
5. Account to the beneficiary for the administration of the estate.
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