How Do You Transfer Land Title When the Owner Is Deceased?

How Do You Transfer Land Title When the Owner Is Deceased?

When a person dies, their property usually becomes the responsibility of their estate executor. It is this person’s duty to distribute or otherwise deal with the assets of the deceased in accordance with the last will and testament they have left behind. 

If the deceased person owned property, transferring land title may become part of an estate executor’s duties. To address your questions about land title or navigating estate executors’ duties in Alberta, book a consultation with our Edmonton estate administration lawyers today. We would be happy to discuss your case and see how we may be of service to you.

How Land Title is Held in Alberta

In Alberta, there are three major ways in which land title is held:

  1. Joint Tenancy, in which two or more individuals co-own the property. Most often, the co-owners are spouses.
  2. Tenancy in Common, in which two or more individuals own a certain share of interest in the property. The shares may or may not be equal.
  3. Sole Ownership, wherein one person holds sole title to the property.

In a joint tenancy, the surviving owners retain ownership of the property if the other owners pass away. If there have been two joint tenants, as is often the case, the surviving tenant automatically holds full ownership of the property, and no land title transfer is needed. Because of this, joint tenancy is often highlighted among tips on reducing your estate planning costs in Alberta.

In order to remove a deceased owner’s name from land title in a joint tenancy, you must submit a Statutory Declaration regarding Proof of Death to the Alberta Land Titles Office, alongside one of the following:

  • Vital statistics registry certificate
  • Medical examiner’s certificate
  • Funeral director’s certificate
  • Cremation certificate
  • If death occurred outside Alberta, a comparable document from relevant authority

Where the deceased held title to the property as a tenant in common, or in sole ownership, the executor of the estate must typically apply for probate in order to begin the process to change land title ownership. The process involves working with an Edmonton estate lawyer to file a copy of the will and other documents with the Court of King’s Bench. In order to ensure this process is done properly, contact our Edmonton estate administration lawyers and see how our team at Verhaeghe Law might be able to help.

The Process of Probate

Probate is a legal process by which a will is reviewed and approved by the court, and the estate executor receives the authority to distribute assets in accordance with the deceased person’s wishes. In reviewing a probate application, a judge will usually require an overview of the estate’s beneficiaries, as well as any other interested parties. The probate application usually involves an inventory of the estate’s debts and assets, as well as the executor’s plan for their management and distribution. 

A successful application for probate receives a Probate Order, which officially gives the executor the right to distribute the estate, including the transfer of any land title required.

Submitting to Alberta Land Titles Office

An estate executor can submit their Probate Order to the Alberta Land Titles Office, who will transfer the land title from the name of the deceased individual to the name of the estate executor. From there, the estate executor may transfer or sell the title. 

Often, the estate executor is also a beneficiary of the estate. This may be, for example, an adult child of the deceased. In such a circumstance, the executor may choose to retain ownership of the property. If other beneficiaries are entitled to the property, negotiations may need to take place, potentially involving a buy-out. Our Edmonton estate administration lawyers would be happy to discuss the nuances of your situation, and see how we may be of help.

Contact Our Edmonton Estate Administration Lawyers Today for a Consultation

If you are the executor of an estate in Alberta, you may be wondering how to transfer land title when the owner is deceased. At Verhaeghe Law, we prioritize efficient, compassionate service geared toward clarifying your questions and making the title transfer process as smooth as possible. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how our Edmonton estate administration lawyers might make a difference for you.

** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of estate administration law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta estate administration lawyer.

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