13 Aug What is Estate Administration?
Estate administration refers to the process of collecting and managing a deceased person’s assets, paying debts, filing taxes, and distributing property. When a person dies, all of their possessions, including property, money, bank and investment accounts, stocks, pensions, personal belongings, and real estate holdings become part of this “estate”. The executor, also known as the estate trustee, is responsible for all of this work and accountable to the beneficiaries of the estate. Being an executor is risky, your actions are under scrutiny, and issues and liabilities can arise easily. Legal advice and representation by an estates lawyer is critical.
The executor is the person in charge of managing assets, paying debts and then transferring the estate assets to the intended beneficiaries. When a person dies and had a Last Will and Testament, the person named as the executor in the will becomes the executor and estate trustee for the estate. If a person dies without having made a will (sometimes called “intestate” or an “intestacy”), then the person entitled to administer the estate is the person who is nominated to be the executor and estate trustee by the majority of the beneficiaries of the estate.
After the funeral or alternative arrangements have been settled, the first issue is to determine whether the estate must go through “probate” or not.
What is Probate?
Probate is the informal name for the process of applying to court for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee With (or Without) A Will. The Certificate of Appointment provides the executor with proper authority to perform all their necessary duties in the administration of the estate. The time it takes the court to issue the Certificate of Appointment can range from a few weeks to many months, even if no complications arise. If there are complicated issues, such as the contesting of a will, the process will likely take years to resolve.
“Probate” is sometimes also used to refer to the tax paid upon the application for a Certificate of Appointment. The formal name for this tax is Estate Administration Tax (EAT). EAT is calculated based on the value of the assets of the estate. Not all assets of the deceased are considered assets of the deceased’s estate. Exempt assets include:
- RRSPs, RRIFs and TFSAs, if a beneficiary is named
- Insurance proceeds, if a beneficiary is named
- Real estate owned outside of Ontario
- Gifts made during life
- Assets held in trust for another person
Jointly held assets may or may not be subject to probate. To determine if an asset is subject to probate, you should seek advice from an experienced estates lawyer. Many financial institutions have a simplistic view to these matters which can lead to costly litigation.
During this time, there are a number of government agencies and institutions to contact to ensure the deceased’s estate is handled legally and according to their wishes. Proper estate administration and record keeping can be complicated and it is important to work with an estate lawyer who can help navigate the probate process and estate administration to complete the process as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Contact Vandeputte Law for Estate Administration Help
If you’re looking for an estate administration lawyer to assist you with your duties as an estate trustee for an estate or to administer a trust or estate, contact Vandeputte Law. We are the leaders in estate administration and strive to provide all our clients with professional service during what is often a stressful time after the death of loved family member or friend.
Contact us today to book an appointment or get more information about our estate administration and estate planning services. Call us or send a message.