The Estate Administration Act in Alberta

Alberta's Estate Administration Act revolutionary changes

Anna Dunaeva DLegal Anna Dunaeva July 26, 2021
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The Effect of the New Estate Administration Act

The new Estate Administration Act came into force in Alberta on June 1, 2015. The Act sets out a new approach to estate administration and duties of personal representatives, also known as executors administrators. The Act applies to estate administration, even if the Will does not require a Grant of Probate. Similarly, the Estate Administration Act applies even if the deceased left no Will.

The Estate Administration Act establishes core tasks and duties for all personal representatives, including executors, administrators, and trustees. Now all personal representatives have similar core tasks and responsibilities, whether a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration are required or not. In addition, the Act applies whether or not the personal representative is named in the Will.

Clarifying Powers, Tasks, and Duties of Personal Representatives

Subject to the limitations set in the Will, a personal representative stands in place of the deceased and has the same powers with respect to their property as the deceased person would have. For example, a personal representative has the authority to take possession and control of the deceased’s assets and do all things concerning the property necessary for the proper administration of the estate.

Further, the Estate Administration Act outlines four core tasks of a personal representative. Specifically, a personal representative must identify and locate the property and debts of the deceased’s estate. A personal representative shall also manage and administer the estate. Another core task of the personal representative is to pay all debts and obligations of the deceased. Finally, a personal representative shall distribute the deceased’s property and provide accounts to the estate’s beneficiaries. The details of these core tasks are explained in a Schedule to the Act.

The Estate Administration Act in Alberta imposes fiduciary duties on personal representatives with respect to estate administration. Specifically, personal representatives must act honestly, with the diligence of a prudent person. If a valid Will exists, a personal representative must follow the testator’s intentions. Where a personal representative acts in a professional capacity or ought to possess a higher degree of skill, the Act requires the personal representative to exercise that higher degree of skill.

The Alberta Estate Administration Act also provides that the personal representative must give specific notices to family members, beneficiaries, the Public Trustee, and other parties. As well, personal representatives must act promptly and distribute the estate as soon as practicable. If there is a delay, the personal representative must provide valid reasons for it. Further, the Act requires a personal representative to communicate with beneficiaries regularly. Also, personal representatives shall create and maintain detailed estate administration records and account to beneficiaries regarding the estate distribution.

Rights Of Beneficiaries

The new Estate Administration Act clarifies the rights of beneficiaries and provides them with specific remedies if a personal representative fails to act appropriately. For example, beneficiaries of the estate have a right to request reports from personal representatives to understand the estate administration process. Also, the beneficiaries can request detailed records from the personal representative to see how they are handling the estate.

When a personal representative fails to perform a duty or core task, an interested person, usually a beneficiary, may apply to the court. The court may require the personal representative to perform the duty or core task, impose conditions on the personal representative, remove the personal representative, revoke the Grant of Administration or Grant of Probate, or make any other appropriate order. Similarly, the court may order the personal representative to provide reports and accounts if they fail to do so.

Simplifying The Law

The new Estate Administration Act is easy to read and use. The Act contains a checklist for the personal representatives and their lawyers to follow when administering the estate. It also includes a clear and detailed outline of duties for personal representatives concerning the estate administration.

The new Estate Administration Act also establishes the priority among applicants for a Grant of Probate or Administration.  Further, the new Act simplifies the procedure for resealing a foreign grant of probate or administration or obtaining an ancillary grant. The new statute also dictates which gifts shall be reduced or eliminated if the estate is insufficient to pay all debts and expenses before distributing the estate. Finally, the Act clarifies that the personal representative is the ultimate decision-maker regarding the funerals and disposition of the deceased’s remains.

Protecting The Interests

The new Estate Administration Act of Alberta honors people’s freedom to make choices regarding their assets and beneficiaries. When a person dies without a Will, the Act assumes they would want the immediate family to receive the deceased’s property on death. However, the Estate Administration Act allows dependent family members to apply for financial support from the estate if the deceased failed to provide for them adequately.

We Are Here To Help You

We appreciate how challenging an estate administration process can be for personal representatives, heirs, and family members. We are here to answer all your questions on Alberta Wills and Estates law. Feel free to shoot us an email or contact form or make a quick call to discuss your estate questions. DLegal Calgary wills and estates lawyers share knowledge of Alberta estate law and help people with estate administration matters. We are proud to see clients’ referrals again and again because we do our job right.

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