Executors Probating Wills Without a Lawyer
For capable executors handling simple estates, probating a will without legal assistance is certainly possible and may save money.
However, in many cases, the probate process is not so straightforward as first appears and complications and delays can arise that may not go down well with beneficiaries or other interested parties.
It may also cost considerable amounts to rectify a situation or defend the estate or your own actions from a lawsuit.
Let’s take a look at what the probate process entails for a personal representative in Edmonton and the pros and cons of self-representation.
Grant of probate or administration
Generally, before the assets in the estate of a deceased person in Edmonton can be transferred to the rightful beneficiaries, a will must pass through the probate process. Without proof of probate, most financial institutions will not release funds or assets to the executor.
Probate is a court process whereby the will is validated and the personal representative named in the will obtains the legal authority to proceed with administering the estate.
Once the grant of probate has been signed by a Justice of the Surrogate Division of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, the deceased’s estate can be lawfully distributed.
If a person dies intestate (without a will), instead of probate, a potential executor must apply for a grant of administration from the court. This serves a similar purpose to a grant of probate and once granted, allows the estate to be legally distributed according to Alberta’s succession laws.
Pros and cons of probating a will without a lawyer
There are both positives and negatives to probating a will without a lawyer—and perceptions are often coloured by the experiences of others who have attempted it.
Not all of these perceptions are generally applicable, as you will see, and they often depend on whether you consider the short or longer-term view.
Probating a Will Without a Lawyer:
Probating a Will Without a Lawyer:
Estate administration checklist to consider as the executor
The Estate Administration Act of Alberta identifies four key tasks of executors, which are further broken down to provide an overview (but not exhaustive list) of the responsibilities/duties of an executor.
Identifying the assets and liabilities of the estate:
- Reviewing the deceased person’s filed income tax returns to find income-generating assets and assets such as RRSPs
- Listing the contents of safety deposit boxes
- Notifying the provincial and federal governments of the death so benefits are stopped
- Notifying financial institutions of the death and requesting information about the assets
- Reviewing bonds, warrants, and share-conversion rights
- Reviewing an accounting from an attorney who has been appointed under an enduring power of attorney or trustee appointed under the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act
Administering and managing the estate:
- Ensuring estate property is secure and insured
- Retaining a lawyer
- Advising beneficiaries of property that will pass outside the estate and joint tenancy survivors
Satisfying the debts and obligations of the estate:
- Advertising for claimants/creditors, if necessary
- Verifying whether claims are legitimate
- Paying debts and claims
- Finding out whether the financial institution will honour cheques not cleared by the deceased
- Reviewing documents such as mortgages and leases and arranging for payments
- Finding out if debts are life-insured
- Reviewing the deceased’s contingent liabilities and deciding what to do about them
- Notifying parties to which the deceased person gave guarantees of the death, in writing
- Determining the deceased person’s and the estate’s income tax or other tax liability
- Filing tax returns and paying tax owing
- Getting tax clearance certificates before distributing the estate
Distributing the estate and accounting for its administration:
- Distributing the assets of the estate
- Accounting for expenses incurred while administrating the estate
If you are the executor of a will in Edmonton and are considering whether to appoint an estate lawyer for assistance, speak to Vest Estate Lawyers during a one on one consultation before deciding on the next steps.