Estate administration: dealing with assets without a will

Fast & CompanyEstate Administration

Though writing a will is not necessarily a difficult task, many people choose to put it off for one reason or another. Unfortunately, some put it off too long and pass away without leaving behind their final instructions. When that happens in British Columbia, the person is said to have died intestate. Will or no will, however, the process of estate administration must still take place, and any assets will need to be disposed of.

When there’s no will, interested parties need to apply to become the administrator so the estate can then be distributed. Anyone applying for this position should understand they may be required to leave a deposit with the court as an assurance the work will be done with honesty and competence. It will also be necessary to gain the approval of any creditors, if the estate has unpaid debts.

Once appointed administrator, there are many duties to take care of regarding the assets. The distribution of assets is pre-determined by British Columbia law, but first those assets must be located and secured. This may include verification of insurance for buildings or vehicles currently in use and seeing to the safety of important documents.

Certain assets will need to be sold, such as real estate, bonds and stocks. Collections, jewelry and antiques are the sort of items that will require professional appraisal. Once the value of a personal belonging has been ascertained, it can then be sold, or transferred to an heir as a portion of that person’s inheritance. Once all the money belonging to, or generated by, the estate has been collected, all debts, expenses and fees can be paid. The remainder will then go to the heirs.

Estate administration without a will can be a very big job. Fortunately, it is not necessary for any single individual to take on the task alone. A lawyer experienced with estate law in British Columbia will be able to help guide an administrator through every step of this important task.