Probate and Administration of Estates

When someone close to you dies, there is a chance that they will have named you in their will as their Executor or Trustee (these two titles are synonymous). The Executor of an estate is tasked with carrying out the wishes of a deceased as communicated in their will.

The job of an Executor is a difficult one, and carries with it many risks and liabilities. You are not obligated to accept this role if you do not want. At the same time, being named an Executor is also a strong indicator of a person's trust, respect and confidence in you. It can be difficult to turn down this responsibility if it is offered to you.

An Executor must manage all of the property in an estate until it can be distributed to the people named in the deceased person's will. In order to transfer the property in an estate to named beneficiaries, an Executor will often be required to obtain a Grant of Probate from the courts.

To obtain a Grant of Probate, an Executor must prepare documentation for the court outlining all of the property in the Estate, all of the named and potential beneficiaries of the Estate's property, and a proposed disposition of that property. The court reviews this proposal to ensure that it complies with the wishes of the deceased as outlined in their will. Once a Grant of Probate is issued, an Executor has the permission and authority to deal with deceased property.

In some situations, an Executor's planned distribution will be challenged by potential or named beneficiaries. In this case, the Executor is expected to defend their planned distribution (and in some rare cases, their very appointment as Executor!) against any challenges.

Our lawyers can assist you with many of tasks that fall to an Executor. This can include providing advice throughout the process of administering an estate, interpreting the will, preparing a Probate Application, representing the estate in any litigation that may arise, selling any Real Property in the estate, and winding up or selling a corporation that forms part of an estate.

The cost of legal services is almost always paid for by an Estate, and an Executor is not expected to pay for any other costs associated with administering an estate. An Executor is also usually entitled to receive reasonable compensation from an estate for their time and effort.