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Responsibilities of an Executor or Administrator

By law the Executor or Administrator must pay all debts of the deceased from the proceeds of the estate, distribute the remaining assets and make an account of all the property received and distributed. In doing this an Executor must follow the instructions in the Will.

An Administrator does not always have the benefit of a Will that sets out how the property is to be distributed. The Intestate Succession Act, 2019, sets out in detail how the assets of an estate must be distributed when there is no Will.

Whether you are acting as an Executor or an Administrator, the steps in administering an estate are the same. Here is a quick overview…

  • locate the Will, if there is one
  • locate the assets of the deceased and determine their value
  • obtain death certificate and notify various agencies of the death - some agencies will require a copy of the death certificate
  • prepare a list of beneficiaries and their addresses
  • file claims for life insurance, pension plans, death benefits
  • pay funeral bills (banks may allow these to be paid directly from the deceased person's account if the bills are submitted to the bank)
  • obtain the appropriate Court Order - Letters Probate or Letters of Administration, if required
  • notify the Public Guardian and Trustee if there are any children under the age of 18, or dependant adults, who may have an interest in the estate
  • advertise for creditors in the required form and manner to help protect yourself from liability
  • call in the estate - gather the assets, plan for sale or disposition of assets not specifically left to a named beneficiary, place all monies from all sources into an estate bank account
  • transfer Title of all real property to the estate
  • pay the bills and debts of the deceased and the estate
  • complete Income Tax Returns and obtain the necessary Income Tax Clearance Certificate required to complete the distribution of the estate
  • keep complete records of all assets coming into the estate and going out of the estate
  • obtain releases from beneficiaries required to complete the distribution of the estate or arrange for passing of accounts if there are any disputes among the beneficiaries - passing of accounts means asking the Court to approve your financial records of the estate and your plan for distributing the estate
  • distribute the estate according to the Will or The Intestate Succession Act

An Executor or Administrator can seek legal advice form a lawyer about how to properly distribute an estate. This expense can be charged to the estate.

Q

Must I Act as Executor?

A

In some cases, you may be unable or unwilling to take on the responsibility of acting as Executor. Other commitments may prevent you from devoting the necessary time and attention to the administration of the estate. You are not required to act as Executor if you do not wish to do so. You may simply sign a Renunciation of Probate form indicating that you are giving up the appointment as Executor. This allows a person named as an alternate Executor to apply to the Court for Letters Probate or, if no alternate Executor was named, for another person to apply to the Court for Letters of Administration.

Debts & Liabilities of the Estate

Before distributing the estate to beneficiaries the Executor or Administrator must make sure there are no outstanding debts or liabilities. They must consider possible claims by a spouse or dependent, any taxes owing and whether the deceased had debts.

Beneficiaries of the Estate

Executors and Administrators can distribute the estate to the beneficiaries once all debts and liabilities have been dealt with. If there is a Will, property the estate will be distributed according to the Will. If there is not a Will the law sets out who receives the estate.

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PLEA gratefully acknowledges our primary core funder the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan for their continuing and generous support of our organization.