An Overview of Beneficiary Rights in Edmonton
The personal representative of an estate, formerly known as an executor, has a set of obligations before the estate’s beneficiaries. This includes providing timely information, handling the estate’s settlement, and honouring the wishes that the deceased has left behind in the last will and testament. The scope of work can vary vastly depending on the estate, and the personal representative is responsible for performing their job with integrity.
If a personal representative is not performing their job within reasonable expectations, the estate’s beneficiaries may be able to enact their rights to either force the personal representative to comply, or, ultimately, to step down from their role. To that end, it may be important to understand an overview of beneficiary rights in Alberta.
The Right to Information
Individuals navigating estate executors’ duties in Alberta will know that beneficiaries have the right to ongoing information about the status of the estate. This includes initial notice about the death itself, as well as regular updates as the will goes through probate and the estate is distributed according to the will.
Under Alberta’s Estate Administration Act, a personal representative is required to inform the following people of the estate holder’s passing:
- The immediate family members, including a spouse or adult interdependent partner, of the estate holder
- Anyone named as a beneficiary in the will
- Any trustees or guardians of the above.
If a beneficiary does not receive notice, they have the right to apply for a court order to require the personal representative to communicate future information and updates to them.
The Right to Fair Treatment
While a personal representative may have great flexibility in how they execute their responsibilities, they have a duty to provide beneficiaries with fair and equal treatment. Given the often-personal nature of estate administration, and the fact that many personal representatives may themselves also be beneficiaries in the will, family dynamics may influence the process.
All estate beneficiaries in Alberta have the right to equal treatment. This means all assets must be distributed with equal adherence to the will. This also means that no beneficiary should have priority access to property or assets.
If you are the beneficiary of an estate and feel that the personal representative is not enacting fair treatment towards all beneficiaries, contact our Edmonton estate administration lawyers today to discuss your rights.
The Right to Accounting
Settling an estate typically involves a significant amount of financial administration. A personal representative is obligated to provide a clear accounting to the estate’s beneficiaries. This accounting should list the estate’s assets and debts, as well as any income the estate has made (e.g., through businesses or investments).
The Right to Request a Personal Representative’s Removal
If a personal representative fails in their duties, the beneficiaries of the estate have the right to remove them from the position. A personal representative may step down voluntarily, should they realize they are unable to fulfill their commitments, whether due to ability, availability, or more.
Unfortunately, sometimes a personal representative does not share the beneficiaries’ opinion of their performance, and may push back against a requested removal. If it comes to an estate litigation matter, the personal representative may be able to use assets from the estate to pay legal fees. A beneficiary would need to use their own funds for such a situation.
For insights specific to your case, contact our Edmonton estate administration lawyers to set up your initial consultation.
The Right to Legal Support
You have the right to legal representation in an estate litigation matter. Should there be a dispute between the beneficiaries and personal representative, or between beneficiaries themselves, litigation may be an avenue to settling the matter.
Our Edmonton estate litigation lawyers would be happy to discuss your concerns, and provide insights into what may be possible in your case. In an initial consultation, we may ask clarifying questions, and advise you on your rights, responsibilities, and what may be possible as an alternative to litigation.
Contact Our Edmonton Estate Administration Lawyers Today for a Consultation
Losing a loved one is an inherently challenging process. Facing conflicts in the settling of their estate can become overwhelming, particularly when the personal representative fails to perform their obligations before the beneficiaries. To gain more of an overview of beneficiary rights in Alberta, and to see how our Edmonton estate administration lawyers may be of service to you, contact us today to book your consultation.
** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of beneficiary rights in estate law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta estate administration lawyer.