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Executor Information: Wills & Estates

Executor of an estate in Alberta? Or perhaps you're the beneficiary of a will and want to make sure the executor is doing his or her job properly. Either way, the information on this site contains a wealth of information to help you achieve your goals.

Please remember that this information is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice, please schedule an appointment with MERGEN LAW or talk to your estate lawyer.

An executor is a person (or institution) appointed by an individual to carry out the terms of that individual's will after death. The executor is now called a personal representative in Alberta, although most people commonly still use the term executor.

A personal representative may also be a administrator (appointed by the court as opposed to by an individual in a will) or a trustee, which is an individual or corporation named by an individual, who sets aside property to be used for the benefit of another person, to manage the property as provided by the terms of the document that created the arrangement. The term executor only applies to someone appointed by an individual in a will.

What Do I Need to Know If I'm the Executor of a Will?

If you are the executor of a will, you need to know that you could have a lot of work ahead of you. Most wills are distributed fairly easily but the process can be complicated, depending on the complexity of the deceased's estate. Additionally, a lot of emotions can arise among beneficiaries and family disputes can result.

If you have been appointed an executor in a will, you do not have to accept the role. You can renounce to the court when the application for probate is submitted. In this case, the family will need to agree on who will act as personal representative/executor. This can be another individual or a corporation. Sometimes using a corporation can be the simplest thing to do, especially if there is conflict within the family.

The executor has specific duties that must be carried out and they must be carried out properly. You will find more information on executor duties on this site as well as an executor checklist that gives you an idea of the duties that you will have to undertake. This information is not comprehensive and each person's situation is unique, so be sure to get legal advice as well to ensure you fulfill your executive duties.

One of the executor's early duties is to file for a Grant of Probate, if required. Not all wills have to go through probate. However, if the deceased person owned real estate (except for joint property) or had large bank accounts, probate will be required. There are other situations in which probate is required as well.

The executor is responsible for ultimately distributing the estate according to the terms of the will. This process typically takes about one year although it can take less time and sometimes lasts much longer. Please read the rest of the information in this section of the website and let us know if you have any questions.

What Do I Need to Know to Monitor an Executor of Estate?

The residual beneficiaries of a will have the right to know what is going on as the executor carries out his or her duties. The best course of action is to ask the executor for regular email updates.

If the executor is uncommunicative, the beneficiaries can contact the executor's estate lawyer to get updates, as long as the executor agrees. It is important to remember that the executor has a lot to do and may not be as communicative as the beneficiaries would like. However, the beneficiaries do not have to accept complete silence as the executor has a duty to act in their best interests.

The executor must notify all residual beneficiaries—those entitled to part of the estate—and all non-residual beneficiaries—those entitled to a specific gift—named in the will. There are specific requirements for what must be included in these notices. Others who may be interested in the estate must also be notified. Notice must also be given when the executor applies for a Grant of Probate.

After the estate has been distributed, the executor must prepare an accounting of all financial transactions for the beneficiaries.

Please read more of the information on this site to learn as much as you can about the executor's role and what to do when, for example, an executor refuses to act. If you have questions, feel free to schedule an appointment with MERGEN LAW, or talk to your estate lawyer.


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