If you're an executor wondering how to probate a will or estate in Alberta, we're here to help. Following is a general step-by-step guide for your role in probating a will in Alberta. Specifics unique to your situation, however, must be discussed with your estate lawyer.
(Note: the term “personal representative” is the current legal term used to refer to an executor/executrix, administrator/administratix, and judicial trustee.)
Before making the appropriate application, there are a number of tasks for the personal representative:
Locate and Review the Will
An original copy is required for an application. If the original is lost, the court may be able to accept a copy if certain conditions are met.
Is the Will Still Valid?
A will isn't valid unless it meets certain conditions:
- It must be in writing and, with certain exceptions, have been made by a person over 18 years of age.
- It must have been signed by the deceased, or another person under the deceased's direction.
- It must have been witnessed by at least two other people in the presence of the deceased, unless the will was personally handwritten (holographic will). If any of the witnesses are beneficiaries, or married to beneficiaries, they will lose their right to receive gifts as a beneficiary.
- Any alterations after writing the will must be properly signed and witnessed.
Is the Will Still in Force?
The will may cease to be in force in certain circumstances:
- Another will or codicil was executed at a later date.
- The deceased, prior to death, intended to revoke the will by destroying it or directing someone else, in their presence, to destroy it.
Is It the Last Will?
The executor must submit the will and swear that it is the last valid will of the deceased. Therefore, it's advisable to inquire about any other subsequent wills or codicils that may have been made.
Collect Information about Children
Part of the information required for probate is the provision of names and certain other details of all children:
- Children born outside of the marriage
- Children of deceased children
Collect Other Documents
In addition to the will and codicil of the deceased, you will need to review copies of the following documents:
- All relevant agreements and court documents pertaining to matrimonial property and all other family and adult partner-related agreements, orders and settlements
- All titles to land owned or partially owned by the deceased, and related leases and tenancy agreements
- Powers of attorney
- Trust agreements
- Vehicle registrations
- Life insurance policies on the deceased's life and the lives of others
- All relevant business agreements such as: shareholder, partnership, employment
Collect Additional Information
The executor's job isn't always easy. There is a great deal of other information that must be provided in the various forms required in the application, including details about:
- The deceased
- Executors and administrators
- Marriages or relationships
- Family members
- All assets, including cash, investments, life insurance benefits, annuities, pensions, personal effects, and business interests
- Details of all foreign assets owned
- All liabilities and guarantees
Applying for the Grant of Probate in Alberta
Once all the information has been collected, the probate forms must be completed. See Probate Forms for details.
Then the appropriate application is made:
- If there is a valid will the executor will apply for a Grant of Probate.
- If there is no will, the application will be for a Grant of Administration.
If the deceased didn't live in Alberta at the time of death, the Grant of Probate isn't done in Alberta. However, if the deceased owned property or other assets in Alberta, the grant will have to be re-sealed in Alberta.