I Am the Executor or Administrator of an Estate
|Alert: Extensive changes to the law in BC relating to estates came into force on March 31, 2014. The Ministry of Justice provides answers to common questions on the new law, called the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA).|
If a person dies with a will, they normally appoint an executor to pay their debts and protect and distribute their property.
If a person dies intestate (without a will), someone — usually a family member — has to apply to be the administrator of the estate. This administrator then distributes the estate to the next-of-kin according to rules in the Wills, Estates and Succession Act.
- If you are the executor of a will or likely to be the administrator of an estate, the only step usually required before the funeral is to make sure the deceased’s property is safe and secure.
- Locate the deceased's will.
- Notify creditors and others (e.g., utilities) of the death.
|The law about estates is somewhat different if the deceased was a registered Indian ordinarily resident on an Indian reserve at the time of his or her death. Administration is handled through Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. An AANDC Estates Officer can provide information about estates on reserve. Toll-free: 1-888-917-9977.|
What happens next
If there was a will, the executor may apply to the BC Supreme Court for a grant of probate. If there was a will, but the executor or executors are unable or unwilling to act, then someone may apply for a grant of administration with will annexed. If there was no will, someone (usually the next-of-kin) will have to apply to the BC Supreme Court for a grant of administration. The person to whom administration is granted is called the administrator.
To apply for a grant of probate or grant of administration with will annexed, the person applying must give notice of the proposed application to the beneficiaries, the will-maker’s spouse and children, and certain other family members. Someone applying for administration must give notice to those entitled to a share in the estate and to creditors who are owed $10,000 or more. In some cases, a person applying for a grant must also give notice to other persons, such as a minor's guardian.
Certain affidavits must be completed and filed in court, together with the originally-signed version of the will. If the original will cannot be found, in some circumstances a copy may be probated. The affidavits will include an inventory of the assets and the debts of the person who died.
Once a grant of probate or administration has been issued by the Supreme Court of BC, the executor or administrator will have full authority to deal with the estate assets. He or she must pay the debts of the person who died. He or she must also file tax returns in respect of that person, and apply for a clearance certificate from Canada Revenue Agency. He or she then distributes the estate to the beneficiaries.
There is a waiting period before the executor or administrator can distribute the estate. He or she must not distribute the estate until 210 days following the date of issue of the grant, unless all beneficiaries and intestate successors consent to earlier distribution or there is a court order approving earlier distribution.
Where to get help
See the Resource List in this Guide for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:
- Access Pro Bono, Lawyer Referral Service, and private bar lawyers.
- The Clicklaw common questions "I am the executor of my mother's will and am doing the work myself," "I'm applying for probate; where can I find the forms required?" and "Is a will different for people who live on reserve?" for further resources.
The Self-Counsel Press also has excellent publications on administering estates, including the British Columbia Probate Kit. This publication is available at most bookstores and most Service BC (Government Agent) offices.
Before meeting with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this Guide. Make sure you bring copies of all documents relating to your case.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Stan Rule, March 2017.|
|Legal Help for British Columbians © Cliff Thorstenson and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|
The person responsible for carrying out the instructions in a will and wrapping up a deceased person's estate and debts. The lovely feminine form of the word is "executrix," though the masculine form is commonly applied to executrices and executors both. See "estate," "testator," and "will."
Something which can be owned. See "chattels" and "real property."
Dying without a will. In such circumstances, the distribution of the dead person’s estate is governed by the Wills, Estates and Succession Act. See also "estate," "inheritance" and "will."
In law, all of the personal property and real property that a person owns or in which they have an interest, usually in connection with the prospect or event of the person's death.
The process of checking the validity of a will, distributing a dead person’s estate and settling their debts according to the instructions set out in that person's will. See "estate" and "will."
Intentionally doing a thing; a law passed by a government, also called "legislation" or a "statute." See "regulations."
Under the Divorce Act, either of two people who are married to one another, whether of the same or opposite genders. Under the Family Law Act, married spouses, unmarried parties who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, and, for all purposes of the act other than the division of property or debt, unmarried parties who have lived together for less than two years but have had a child together. See "marriage" and "marriage-like relationship."
A person who is younger than the legal age of majority, 19 in British Columbia. Not to be confused with "miner." See "age of majority."
A person charged with the legal care of someone under a legal disability. A term under the Family Law Act referring to a person, including a parent, who is responsible for the care and upbringing of a child through the exercise of parental responsibilities. See "disability," "parental responsibilities" and "parenting time."
A mandatory direction of the court, binding and enforceable upon the parties to a court proceeding. An "interim order" is a temporary order made following the hearing of an interim application. A "final order" is a permanent order, made following the trial of the court proceeding or the parties' settlement, following which the only recourse open to a dissatisfied party is to appeal. See "appeal," "consent order," "decision" and "declaration."
A person licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. See "barrister and solicitor."
A lawyer or a person other than a lawyer who helps clients with legal issues; to argue a position on behalf of a client.
In law, a court proceeding; a lawsuit; an action; a cause of action; a claim. Also the historic decisions of the court. See "action," "case law, " "court proceeding," and "precedent."