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Carrying Out Final Wishes

Understanding the probate process

In March of 2014, British Columbia enacted the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, which modernized estate law and made the probate process easier.

Whether probate is necessary or not depends upon the policies of the financial institutions or agencies that hold any assets that are part of a decedent's estate. Some agencies require that executors apply for representation grants so they can be formally recognized as official representatives of the estate. Executors must contact the institutions to learn whether or not it will be necessary to apply for these grants.

In the event that the decedent died intestate, an individual can apply to be appointed as administrator. Even if there is a valid will, this still applies under the following conditions:

  • The named executor renounced his or her right to apply for probate to the court
  • There was no executor named
  • The named executor died after the will was written, but an alternate executor wasn't named

The primary duties of an administrator or executor include:

  • Compiling names and addresses of next-of-kin and beneficiaries
  • Completing an asset valuation, inventory and debt total
  • Concluding all personal matters, such as redirecting mail and cancelling credit cards and subscriptions
  • Ensuring valid debts are paid, or risking liability for the same after the estate has been distributed
  • Assuming control of assets, collecting debts owed and transferring ownership registrations
  • Filing all tax returns for the decedent and estate
  • Selling any assets that remain and distributing the estate
  • Getting approval from the court, heirs-at-law and beneficiaries for decedent's accounts and showing receipts, assets, disbursements and estate distributions

Legal fees and related expenses can be paid from the estate funds.

Source: gov.bc.ca, "Wills & Estates," accessed Oct. 23, 2015

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