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 and distribute the estate according to the will. If there was no will, then the estate would be distributed pursuant to The Intestate Succession Act, 1996 where the death occurs before October 1, 2019, or The Intestate Succession Act, 2019 where the death occurs on or after October 1, 2019.
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 a married or common law 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 married or common law 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.
Note: The Intestate Succession Act, 1996 was repealed and replaced with The Intestate Succession Act, 2019. These changes only apply for deaths that occur on or after October 1, 2019. For deaths that occur prior to October 1, 2019, the rules under the Intestate Succession Act, 1996 apply. Some key amendments to the Act include:
- Clarification when a spousal relationship has terminated and the spouse is no longer entitled to any portion of the estate. Specifically, the spouse does not receive any share in the estate if the couple had been living separate and apart for two years.
- Revision of the rules regarding priority of distribution where there is a spouse.
- The preferential share for the spouse has been increased from $100, 000 to $200,000 and is located in The Intestate Succession Regulations.
- The spouse will inherit the entire estate if all children of the intestate are also children of the spouse.
- Where the intestate died leaving one or more children of a different relationship, then the surviving spouse will first receive his or her preferential share and then
- where there is one child of the intestate the remainder of the estate will be split between the surviving spouse and the intestate's child; and
- where the intestate had more than one child, the surviving spouse will receive 1/3 of the estate and the intestate's children will share equally in the remaining 2/3 of the estate.
- All of an intestate's land located in Saskatchewan are governed by laws of Saskatchewan regardless of where the intestate resided.
- Revision of the rules of the distribution of an intestate's property to beneficiaries where there is no will.