We Understand the Complexities of Estate Administration
The administration of an estate can be a difficult and trying time. For executors and administrators, the paperwork and legal responsibilities can be complicated and hard to understand. For beneficiaries dealing with grief and confusion, the process can be overwhelming.
We can provide both executors and beneficiaries with a variety of services designed to settle the estate efficiently, in accordance with the law, and sensitive to the person’s wishes. Some of the ways we can help include:
- Identifying, securing and dealing with assets;
- Identifying and paying valid debts and claims against the estate;
- Protecting estate executors and administrators from legal claims;
- Protecting beneficiaries from unnecessary taxation;
- A full range of estate accounting and support services
Assisting Families to Administer Estates Quickly and Effectively at Reasonable Cost
As a full-service firm, the most important thing that distinguishes us from other firms is that we take the time to review the estate from all angles. This includes looking at things such as real estate planning, taxation matters, and family law considerations.
We also examine how the administration of the estate may affect the beneficiaries’ corporate or business interests. In particular, we look at the potential for a dispute developing and work to reduce that likelihood by providing timely advice to everyone involved.
We ensure clients get complete information. Regular updates are a part of the process—not an afterthought. We also make sure clients have a solid understanding of the costs involved.
A Full-Service, Team-Centric Approach
We take our responsibility to provide comprehensive advice and to protect the legal interests of the executor or administrator seriously.
Because a significant portion of AGBL’s practice focuses on estate administration, we have a full-time dedicated estates administration clerk handling most files.
If problems or questions arise, our full-service, team-centric approach means that other lawyers and law clerks are available to assist and help solve problems quickly and cost-effectively.
Frequently Asked Questions
A lawyer can usually help a family by answering basic questions about the process of putting in order the affairs of the person who has died. He or she will usually want to take instructions from the executor named in the deceased’s will. If the deceased left no will, there is still a process to follow, which the lawyer can explain to the surviving spouse, children or other next of kin.
By getting legal advice early in the process, executors and the deceased’s next of kin can protect themselves from mistakes that could leave them personally liable for payment of taxes or other debts of the estate.
Early legal advice will also help clarify the proper steps to ensure the wishes of the deceased are administered efficiently and cost-effectively and that the beneficiaries receive the bequests they are entitled to.
Simply book a no-cost preliminary appointment with AGBL so that we can explain the process and applicable laws to you with both care and compassion.
Since AGBL offers a free initial consultation, what documents should we bring to this first appointment?
The most important thing is to come in and get the information you need—even if you have little knowledge of the affairs of the deceased.
The first step will be to determine whether or not the deceased’s affairs need to undergo probate, a process of review in the Superior Court.
Ultimately, you will need to provide a variety of documents, including those related to the deceased’s debts and assets (e.g., deeds to homes or vacation properties, bank books or statements, and information on investments). Certificates of birth, marriage, and death will also be required. Don’t panic if you do not have all of this information. Part of our job is to explain what is needed and help you plan to get it so we can advise you on how best to proceed with the administration of the estate.
The primary role of the executor is to administer the estate (identify assets and debts, pay debts, distribute assets to beneficiaries and settle all tax matters) and inform all beneficiaries of their entitlement in the estate. AGBL will advise you about each of these roles and responsibilities as executor. We will gently guide you through the process while also providing you with sound advice that protects you from the claims of others.
If there is no will, a surviving spouse or children (or brothers and sisters) may wish to step up and administer the estate, that is, take on the responsibilities of an executor. AGBL can advise you on how to do this and explain the role and responsibilities.
It’s important to get legal advice as early as possible, because you could be held personally accountable for what you do, or fail to do—even if this occurs before you get legal advice.
At your first consultation with AGBL, we will outline the process (steps and timelines) and your responsibilities as executor. We will also go over the likely costs associated with the administration of the estate as well as the compensation you may be entitled to receive from the estate.
AGBL can provide as much or as little assistance as you require. In short, we will put together a personalized plan designed to administer the estate as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
We are equipped to handle and advise executors on all aspects of estate administration including preparation of court material (if required), real estate transfers, family law considerations, tax-related advice, and preparation of tax returns. We can also assist in preparing forms such as those related to life insurance, death benefits, and pensions as well as investments and other assets.
Typically it will take our office about 3 months to assist an executor/administrator to get probate complete and receive a Certificate of Appointment (Probate Certificate) from the Court.
This does not end the administration work required by the executor but does get them the certificate/power they need to get the job done. Ultimately the complexity of the estate and the diligence and competence of the executor will very much influence the speed with which the estate is completed. Ultimately getting tax returns filed and receiving a clearance certificate from CRA can take 1-2 years in the current environment. Of course, most of this time simply involves waiting by the executor, not active legal work.