Understanding how estate administration begins in BC

Fast & CompanyEstate Administration

It is more than likely that a person appointed executor of an estate has never done so previously. Needless to say, he or she may have a lot of questions about the job they’ve been asked to do. This article will discuss some of the fundamental points to know about estate administration in British Columbia.

The entire process begins, once the position has been accepted, with probate. Probate is typically the key first step in administering an estate and is generally where everything starts, assuming the assets of the estate need to be probated. Certain assets do not require probate, so it is prudent to inquire with the appropriate financial institutions first. Examples include jointly held assets like homes or vehicles, and some RRSPs and insurance policies.

Probate must be initiated by the submission of probate documents to the court. There is a fee for this process, the amount of which is determined by the value of the estate. Typically, the fee can be paid from the estate after gaining permission from the deceased person’s bank.

To begin, a judge must declare the will to be legal and executable. Should the will be challenged by another person, say a disgruntled heir, or if another will is found to exist, the judge must determine if administration can proceed, or if the will is to be rejected. Assuming the validity of the will is confirmed, which is typically the case with a professionally prepared will, the next stages of estate administration can begin, including paying debts and distributing assets to the beneficiaries.

Estate administration is a legal iceberg, of which probate is the tip. And while the whole task may seem overwhelming, it may be comforting to know that, as the executor, one is able to fulfill the last wishes of the deceased. Having assistance during this difficult and important time from a caring and able British Columbia lawyer may also be of great comfort.