THE ESTATE ADMINISTRATION PROCESS IN ONTARIO
Being named as an Estate Trustee in a Will (or being appointed as an Estate Trustee Without a Will), is an important and time-consuming commitment. It generally takes at least one full year to see the process through to the end, and can require the appointed Estate Trustee to navigate many complex processes and decisions.
Our estate lawyers are unparalleled experts in estate administration. If you have been appointed an Estate Trustee in a Will, or are seeking an appointment in a situation where there is no Will, we will help you to navigate the process from start to finish, and advise you of your obligations and responsibilities throughout to ensure that the process is carried out properly, with full consideration of the law.
Duties and Obligations of an Estate Trustee
The responsibilities of an estate trustee begin at soon as the person has passed away. Your first responsibility will generally be to make the funeral arrangements. Following that, it is important to seek legal advice as to the steps involved in administering as estate. It is likely that an appointment as an Estate Trustee by the court will be required in order to act as estate trustee. At this point, retaining a solicitor for advice on how to proceed with the Application for Appointment of Estate Trustee (With or Without a Will) is important.
We will meet with you to gather the pertinent information, review the Will, review the inventory of assets and liabilities of the estate, determine beneficiaries, and create a plan to assist you in carrying out your duties. At this point, we will also discuss any potential claims against the estate in order to prepare for that possibility, or explore opportunities for early resolution of conflict in order to avoid litigation.
Once you receive court appointment, you will be able to deal with the various assets of the deceased, such as bank accounts, investments and any real estate. We will help you determine whether investment of estate funds will be necessary (for example, in the event that trust is required under the Will), and if so, the investment and accounting obligations of a trustee.
You may also need to deal with real estate owned by the deceased. If the property was not owned jointly, it will likely need to be sold, and the proceeds added to the estate for distribution. Once the the assets have been accounted for and the liabilities dealt with, you can distribute the assets according to the Will. In the event that there was no Will, we will guide you through the process of asset distribution according to the rules of intestacy under provincial legislation.
You will also be responsible to for keeping detailed records of and accounting for the assets and debts, for the purposes of reporting to the beneficiaries and for preparing an estate tax return. Lastly, you must obtain a final clearance certificate from Revenue Canada once the taxes have been filed. If there are ongoing trusts to be managed, it may be necessary to oversee the trust, manage investments and file tax returns for several years.
Trusted Lawyers to Act as Estate Trustees During Litigation
Our lawyers have extensive experience in estate administration, and will step in to act as Estate Trustees when requested. This can become particularly important if litigation arises. In the event of a conflict, it is necessary for a third party to take responsibility for managing the estate until the court decides on the issues at hand. This role is referred to as an Estate Trustee During Litigation, and we have over 20 years of experience carrying out these duties on behalf of our clients.
Contact Sweatman Law at our Oakville, Milton or Georgetown office to Discuss the Duties and Obligations of an Estate Trustee
Being appointed or seeking appointment as an Estate Trustee is an important role requiring careful consideration of many potential complex issues. We will work with you to carefully explain your responsibilities, provide advice and step in to manage the estate if required. Please contact us online to arrange a consultation.