What is a grant of administration in Alberta?
Grant of administration (or “letter of administration”) is issued by the Surrogate Court of Alberta and appoints an administrator for an estate.
Grant of administration may be required if there is no will or the appointed personal representative in the will has died or is unwilling or unable to take on the responsibilities of administrator.
What is the difference between grant of probate and grant of administration?
Some people confuse a grant of administration with a grant of probate. They are two different court orders serving different purposes:
- A grant of probate proves the validity of an individual’s will and grants authority to the executor to carry out the provisions made in the will.
- A grant of administration is necessary when no will is located or a nominated personal representative is unable to perform his or her duties.
Grant of administration for intestacy
If a person dies without a will in Alberta, the family should not expect a quick resolution because nobody is authorized to handle the estate of the deceased.
It requires court intervention. Specifically, without a grant of administration, nobody is legally entitled to handle any of the assets in the estate.
Grant of administration with will annexed
Where the deceased has not named a personal representative or the person named is unable or unwilling to fulfil their duties, the Surrogate Court of Alberta will issue a court order known as a grant of administration with will annexed.
This appoints an administrator to execute the will according to the stated wishes of the deceased.
Who can apply for a grant of administration?
In Alberta, only certain family members can apply for a grant of Administration. Priority is given in the following order:
- The spouse or adult interdependent partner (i.e., common-law relationship) of the deceased,
- The children of the deceased,
- Grandchildren aged 18 or older.
If none of the above family members apply, then any other blood relatives of the deceased of legal age may apply, including parents, siblings, and any other relatives. In these cases, priority is given to relatives who reside in Alberta.
In the case of a bankrupt estate, the court may appoint a creditor of the estate as administrator.
What is the administrator’s role?
The personal representative or administrator of an estate must have the capability and availability to handle the taxes, assets, and debts of the deceased’s estate.
Generally, the term “personal representative” is used if a person is named in the will but the court will use the term “administrator”. They amount to the same thing.
The role may be no small undertaking, depending on the complexity of the estate. It may take several months or more to organize and some people prefer to work with an estate or will lawyer to ensure the process goes smoothly.
The administrator has a legal and ethical duty to the estate and its beneficiaries and must distribute assets according to the rules set out by Alberta’s Wills and Succession Act.
How do you apply for a grant of administration in Calgary?
When applying for a grant of administration in Calgary, you must navigate a series of steps, as summarized below.
1. Gather information and complete the forms
The first step is to gather the required information relating to the estate and beneficiaries of the deceased. For starters, you will need the following:
- The original will (if applicable)
- A list of the value of the deceased’s assets and debts
- Bank account numbers, credit card info and any investment details
- Land/property ownership details
- Descriptions of the deceased’s valuable belongings (e.g., vehicles, jewelry, etc.)
You should gather details related to the deceased’s date and place of birth, date and location of death, and the names, dates of birth and addresses of the beneficiaries.
Once you have the information, you are ready to tackle the surrogate forms. Don’t be daunted by the fact that there are around 80 different forms. You probably won’t need all of them.
The forms are divided into the following categories:
Our estate planning lawyers will help you sort through the forms and complete the ones that apply to your situation.
2. Publish a notice to claimants
As the potential administrator, you need to be aware of any debts against the estate. To discover this, you may decide to publish a notice (ad) in the local newspaper about the deceased and the estate.
This can help you protect against any liability. Any claimants have one month to contact you about their claim. It’s best not to file your application to the Surrogate Court until this time has elapsed.
If the estate is valued at more than $100,000, you need to publish the notice a second time, at least five days after the first notice.
3. Inform the relevant parties
Under Alberta’s laws, before filing your application, administrators must inform spouses and beneficiaries in writing that they are entitled to receive an inheritance from the estate. The letter must be accompanied by a copy of the will and sent to:
- The current and former spouse(s) of the deceased
- The current and former adult interdependent partners (common-law) of the deceased
- Guardians of dependent children, minor grandchildren or great-grandchildren
- The public trustee
4. Review and file the application
After completing the forms, review everything carefully with your estate planning lawyer. Make sure that everything has been filled in completely and correctly to avoid delays.
Then, you are ready to file the application. At Vest Estate Planning, we look after this for clients, applying to the Surrogate Division of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta at the courthouse located closest to the deceased’s former residence.
5. Await an answer from the courts
A judge may be able to decide your case without a court hearing. If there are contentious matters, you will need to appear before a judge.
It can take weeks or even months for a final decision to be made about a grant of administration.
You will be contacted by the clerk of the court about the court fees owing (up to a maximum of $525) and then the grant of administration will be issued.
You are then free to carry out your duties as administrator.