How Long Does an Executor Have to Settle an Estate in Alberta?

How Long Does an Executor Have to Settle an Estate in Alberta?

When someone passes away, their property becomes the responsibility of an estate executor. This is typically a close family member, such as an adult child or spouse of the deceased. It is this individual’s job to deal with the estate according to their loved one’s wishes as outlined in the last will and testament they leave behind.

Depending on the circumstances, administering an estate can be a substantial undertaking, and may take anywhere from months to over a year. In some cases, where there is no will, additional steps may be required in order to take on the powers of a personal representative. Whatever your particular situation, our Edmonton estate administration lawyers may be able to help guide you through the process.

What Does an Executor Do?

It is an executor’s duty to settle the deceased’s estate. This usually involves:

  • Taking the will through probate;
  • Paying off any debts the deceased left behind;
  • Gathering the estate’s assets;
  • Closing the deceased’s accounts;
  • Notifying beneficiaries of the process;
  • Handling the deceased’s taxes;
  • Distributing assets among beneficiaries;
  • And more.

Serving as the executor of an estate can be a daunting job, especially when factored on top of a person’s regular career and family obligations. Because the executor is often a close family member of the deceased, the process may also be emotional, intertwined with grief and possible family tensions. Working with our Edmonton estate administration lawyers may be instrumental in reducing some of the stress.

The will typically includes a provision for remuneration for the executor, in recognition of their labour. Usually, this is calculated at between 1-4% of the estate’s gross value for each year the estate is open. It can be helpful to keep in mind that this payment is taxable as income, while inheritance money is not. Because of this, executors who are also beneficiaries in the will may choose to waive their remuneration.

Probating a Will

In order for the executor to carry out the wishes of the deceased in distributing the estate, they must usually first probate the will. This means finding the will and bringing it before a judge. The judge then confirms that the document is valid and that the executor has the right to represent the estate. In some cases, the deceased may have already made provisions according to their estate planning checklist, structuring their will such that property passes to the beneficiaries without the need for probate.

While navigating probates and wills, the executor must gather all relevant documentation, which may include: 

  • The will;
  • Banking and financial statements;
  • Mortgages;
  • Medical bills;
  • Birth and death certificates;
  • Life insurance policies;
  • Deeds;
  • Titles;
  • Corporate records;
  • Debts;
  • Stocks or bonds;
  • A list of assets;
  • Tax records;
  • And more.

With all the information gathered, the executor then typically works with an estate lawyer who represents them in probate court. Once the executor receives the Grant of Probate from the court, they may begin to execute the wishes of the deceased.

How Long Does the Process of Settling an Estate Take?

In Alberta, there is no strict timeline for an executor to settle an estate. It is generally expected to be done as soon as possible, and takes about a year on average.

However, this timing may vary vastly. Many factors influence the process: the size of the estate, how many debts the deceased may have owed, how many beneficiaries there are, and more. In some cases there may be contentions within the family. A question often asked is can a beneficiary contest a will? The answer is yes, they may, and this may lengthen the process of settling an estate.

The process may likewise be longer if the deceased died without a will. Conversely, if the estate was relatively small, with no debts and few beneficiaries, the estate may be settled in a matter of months.

Contact Our Edmonton Estate Administration Lawyers Today for a Consultation

Serving as the executor of an estate can be challenging on both an administrative and emotional level. Having the support of a legal team advising on estate administration matters may help ease the burden. Contact us today to discuss the specifics of your case, and see how our team of Edmonton estate administration lawyers may be of service to you. 

** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on a legal subject and is not intended to be legal advice. For legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.

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