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Carrying Out Final Wishes

How do I know if probate will be necessary?

Last year, some changes were made to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act that affects residents of British Columbia. The changes are intended to modernize estate laws and make the probate process easier.

Below are some general questions and answers regarding the process. For more specific information about individual probate circumstances, consult a probate lawyer in the province.

Does my late parent's estate have to go to probate?

It depends. Probate needs are determined by policies of the financial institutions holding assets of the estate of the deceased. Many require executors to apply for representation grants to get formal recognition as official representatives of a decedent's estate. Contact the institution to determine whether it's necessary to seek a representation grant.

My relative died without a will. Who administers their estate?

When someone dies intestate, an individual can make application to be named as administrator. They may also apply when a will exists if:

-- The will does not specify an executor

-- An executor is named, but the person is now deceased and no other executor was listed as an alternate

-- The named executor renounced their right to make application for probate to the court

What are an administrator's or executor's responsibilities?

Their basic duties include:

-- Completing the inventory and valuation of all debts and assets of the decedent's estate

-- Providing the names and addresses of the next-of-kin and beneficiaries

-- Cancelling credit cards and subscriptions, redirecting mail and tying up loose ends of the decedent's personal affairs

-- Assuming control of the assets, including ownership transfers and debt collections

-- Repaying any proven or valid debts of the estate

-- Filing tax returns for the deceased and for the estate

-- Distributing the estate and selling assets as needed

-- Seeking and obtaining authorization from the court, heirs-at-law and beneficiaries via receipts, disbursements, assets and all distributions of the estate.

Source: Government of British Columbia, "Wills and Estates," accessed Nov. 12, 2015

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