The Estate Administration Act of Alberta came into effect on June 1, 2015, along with new Surrogate Rules. The Estate Administration Act governs the tasks that must be performed relating to estate administration. A new provision provides that a personal representative stands in the shoes of the deceased person and has the same powers as the deceased person to administer the estate, subject to the act and the will.
(Note: the term “personal representative” is the current legal term used to refer to an executor/executrix, administrator/administratix, and judicial trustee.)
The Estate Administration Act:
- Recognizes that people are free to do what they want with their assets and that their decisions must be respected, after their legal obligations are settled
- Assumes a deceased person would want family to have his or her property, if that person did not leave a will
- Allows for dependent family members to receive adequate support from a deceased person's estate
- Clarifies the duties of a personal representative when it comes to estate administration
- Provides an estate administration checklist for the personal representative and his or her lawyer to follow
- Allows beneficiaries to take the personal representative to court if he or she is not doing what they should be doing
- Gives the personal representative the same powers as the deceased when it comes to administering the estate as long as he or she is following the Estate Administration Act and the will
The Estate Administration Act can be viewed, downloaded, or ordered at the Alberta Queen's Printer.
Easy to Understand
The Estate Administration Act includes plain language so personal representatives can understand their duties, core tasks, notice requirements and responsibilities when administering an estate. It was designed to make it easier to use and understand the law.
The act applies to all types of personal representative—executor, administrator or trustee—including those named in a will. It applies whether or not a grant is given by the court. With or without a Grant of Probate or Grant of Administration, the personal representative has the same duties, core tasks, notice requirements, and responsibilities.
The act also applies to administrations, applications, or grants existing before it came into effect.
The Estate Administration Act specifies that personal representatives must act honestly and in good faith. They must also act in accordance with the testator's intention and with the will, if a will exists. They must also use the care, diligence, and skill that a prudent person would use.
According to the act, estates must be distributed as soon as possible. If a personal representative delays distribution, he or she must have good reason to do so.
The act sets out the four core tasks of a personal representative. These are: identifying the assets and liabilities of the estate, managing and administering the estate, paying the debts and obligations of the estate, and distributing the estate and accounting to the beneficiaries. Details are provided in a schedule in the act.
The act also requires personal representatives to report to beneficiaries so they are aware of what's going on. They must also keep records detailing how they are handling the estate.
If a personal representative refuses or fails to carry out his or her duties, someone else, usually a beneficiary, may apply to the court. This can also occur if the personal representative fails to provide the required notices. Specific notices must be given to family members, beneficiaries, the Public Trustee, and other parties. This applies whether or not the personal representative applies for a grant.