Probate and Administration
In the event of a loved one passing away, the Personal Representative or Executor not only has to oversee the funeral arrangements but also the important legal duty to distribute all estate assets owned by the deceased based on the deceased’s wishes. The Personal Representative must confirm his or her authority through a court process, but then must collect all Estate assets and pay all Estate debts and taxes before distribution. If the deceased person had a Will, the court process is called Probate. If the deceased person did not have a Will, the court process is called Administration. Wills & Estate Lawyers at Prowse Chowne can guide you through all of these steps to ensure the Estate is managed correctly. We can assist with confusing court procedure as well as any complex legal issue arising at any stage of the Probate or Administration.
When a deceased person has prepared a Will, usually the Executor, or Personal Representative will have to make an application to the court for a Grant of Probate. An Executor is typically named in a Will, although sometimes this step is forgotten or is worded incorrectly when people have prepared their own Will without legal assistance. If an Executor is not named, there is Legislation to assist the Court in determining which family member should act. This can be a problem if the surviving family members would not be appropriate for the task. A friend or a Trust company might be a preferable option. This is only one of many errors we have observed in instances where a deceased has prepared a Will with no legal assistance. Without exception, it is more costly to administer a poorly prepared Will as the Probate process becomes much more complex and because tax advantages are missed. Our legal team can help to ensure that the Will is properly prepared in the first instance, or can help family members through the process when the Will a deceased has left behind is deficient.
The application for Probate process tends to be much simpler when the deceased has had an experienced Estates lawyer prepare the Will, still, many named Executors feel overwhelmed with the tasks he or she has become responsible for. Our experienced legal team can aid the executor with making the application to the court for a Grant of Probate, but also can assist after the Grant is received in collecting the assets, paying the debts, accounting to beneficiaries and distributing the Estate. We can guide the Executor throughout to ensure the proper steps are taken and all legalities have been considered to protect you from liability and to simplify the process as much as possible. In the event that the Estate is challenged, our legal team can assist to ensure that the deceased’s wishes are respected to the fullest extent possible.
This is sometimes called “Letters of Administration” by financial institutions. It is the process where a Personal Representative is appointed in an Estate where there is no Will. There is Legislation in Alberta which dictates who should administer the Estate when there is no Will and it also dictates who will be the beneficiaries of that Estate. We are experienced in assisting families administer Estates where the deceased had no Will and we can guide you through the process to protect you from liability and ensure the process is as simple as possible.
Unfortunately when there is no Will, the process for naming guardians for minor children is much more complex and often contentious. When there are minor beneficiaries of the Estate, the Public Trustee will likely be required to hold the Estate funds for the child until the child is over age 18. The Personal Representative will not be able to provide funds for care and maintenance of the children before that age and also cannot hold the funds for a longer period to ensure the child is ready to manage the assets on his or her own.