How long does an executor have to settle an estate in Alberta?

How long does an executor have to settle an estate in Alberta?

The executor, also known as the personal representative, is the person responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased as set out in the will. In Alberta, the executor’s responsibilities are set out in the Estate Administration Act. While the legislation does not set a deadline by which an estate must be settled, it does require an executor to “distribute the estate as soon as practicable.”

Estates vary greatly in complexity and in the number of tasks that an executor will need to accomplish before the estate will be considered settled, therefore it is impossible for the province to set a hard deadline for executors. Generally, the Alberta courts expect an executor to distribute the estate to the beneficiaries within a year of probate being granted.

Whether you are an executor or a beneficiary, our wills and estates lawyers can help analyze your particular situation and determine how long an executor has to settle an estate in Alberta in your case.

Responsibilities of an executor in Alberta

The executor's most pressing responsibility after the death of the testator is to make funeral and burial arrangements. After that, the executor's responsibilities include:

  • identifying, collecting and preserving the assets of the estate
  • probating the will, if necessary
  • advertising to inform potential creditors of the testator's death
  • paying any debts and taxes owed by the estate
  • distributing the estate to beneficiaries
  • accounting for the administration and distribution of the estate.

Depending on the complexity of the estate, some duties may be unnecessary. Probating a will, for example, is only necessary if the executor needs to prove the validity of the will to the Land Title Office or to a financial institution. It is often not required for a small or simple estate as the title to certain assets may pass directly to beneficiaries.

What affects the length of time an executor takes to settle an estate in Alberta?

The size and complexity of the estate will be the primary factor affecting how long an executor has to settle an estate in Alberta. An estate with many assets and liabilities may:

  • require the will to be probated, which may take several weeks or months
  • be more likely to be the subject of disputes or even litigation relating to the will, taxes or other liabilities
  • include assets that are more difficult and time-consuming to liquidate and distribute, such as a business or multiple properties
  • require the creation or dissolution of a trust.

While there is a general expectation that a relatively straight-forward estate should be settled in approximately one year, the executor can only do their best and that is all that the courts expect.

Contact our Edmonton Estate Administration Lawyers Today

If you are the executor or the beneficiary of an estate and you have concerns about the amount of time that has passed since the testator's death without any distribution to the beneficiaries, our wills and estates professionals can help. Contact us today to get advice from an Edmonton wills and estates lawyer.

Disclaimer: Please note the content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice. For more specific legal advice please consult with a family lawyer.

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