You have been appointed to administer the estate of a family member, friend or loved one – what comes next? There are numerous steps involved in the administration of an estate and the job may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Estate administration can take time so it’s important to decide if you have the dedication and resources to complete the task from start to finish. Enlisting the help of a professional, such as an estate lawyer, can help things go more smoothly and may save you a lot of unnecessary grief during the process.
Some of the important steps to take when administering an estate are:
- Obtaining the Certificate of Death from Vital Statistics
- Assisting with Funeral Arrangements
- Meeting with an Estate Lawyer
- Reviewing the Will and any Codicils or Memorandums to the Will
- Establishing the value of the estate assets and obtaining appraisals if necessary
- Confirming Insurance Policies are in place for Real Estate and Personal Property
- Securing valuable assets and obtaining insurance riders if needed
- Filing claims for Life Insurance and Pension Plan Death Benefits
- Determining sources of income and making sure income tax filings are up to date
- Verifying outstanding debts and advertising for creditors
If the value of the estate exceeds $25,000 the Executor must also apply to the court for an estate grant, such as a Grant of Probate, by completing the following:
- Providing Notice of intention to apply and a copy of the Will to the appropriate parties (e.g. beneficiaries listed in the Will and intestate successors)
- Completing the required application for an estate grant in the prescribed form
- Paying necessary probate fees (probate fees in B.C. are $6 for every $1000 by which the value of the estate exceeds $25,000 but is not more than $50,000 and $14 for every $1000 by which the value of the estate exceeds $50,000)
After an estate grant is issued by the court, an Executor can then administer the estate assets in accordance with the provisions in the Will. This process involves calling in all assets, paying all debts, filing a final income tax return and trust return, applying for a Clearance Certificate from Canada Revenue Agency, preparing an accounting and distributing funds to the beneficiaries.
These are a few examples of the most important tasks involved in estate administration. Your estate lawyer can help you put together a more comprehensive list that is tailored to your specific situation and can assist you with the prescribed forms required by the court. Estate administration does not have to be overcomplicated and with the right approach, you can help put the minds of the deceased’s loved ones at ease knowing the estate is being handled with proper care and attention.