An executor named in a Last Will and Testament is entitled to administer an estate. If there is no Last Will and Testament, the closest relative is entitled to apply to the Court to become the administrator of the estate.
Although the tasks required to administer an estate will vary according to the exact nature of the estate, the following is a list of the more common duties for the executor or administrator:
- Search for and locate the Last Will and Testament;
- obtain the death certificate and notify the appropriate agencies of the death;
- Identify, verify and locate all beneficiaries of an estate Identify, locate, secure, value and insure all assets of an estate owned at death. file claims and make application for all benefits including insurance, life insurance, pension plans and death benefits;
- pay the funeral bills;
- apply to the court for Letters Probate or Letters of Administration, if required;
- notify the Public Guardian and Trustee if there are any dependent adults or children (beneficiaries) under the age of 18 years, who may have an interest in the estate;
- identify the debts of the estate and publish a Notice to Creditors;
- deal with the real property of the estate place all monies from all sources into an estate bank account;
- file the income tax returns for the deceased and the estate and obtain a Final Clearance Certificate from Canada Revenue Agency;
- pay the debts of the estate according to the legislative priority;
- provide an accounting to the beneficiaries within two years;
- obtain releases from the beneficiaries or apply to the court for an order passing the accounts, distribute the estate according to the will, if there was one, or to The Intestate Succession Act, 1996, if there was not.
In certain circumstances, the estate cannot be distributed for six months after Letters Probate or Letters of Administration are obtained. Those are:
- dependants of the deceased may have a claim pursuant to The Dependants' Relief Act, 1996 because the will did not make adequate arrangements for their support. Dependants include legal, common law or same-sex spouse; children under the age of 18 years; or children over the age of 18 years who by reason of physical or mental disability are not able to support themselves; and
- a legal, common law or same-sex spouse who was not named as the sole beneficiary of the estate may apply for a division of the family property after the death of the other spouse.