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Personal Representative Definition

Personal representative definition: the executor or administrator of an estate appointed in a will, or an administrator appointed by the court

No personal representative definition would be complete without looking at the legal definitions. Alberta's Surrogate Rules define personal representative as “…an executor of a will or an administrator or trustee of an estate to which these Rules apply, and includes a person named as an executor or trustee in a will before a grant is issued”.

According to the Estate Administration Act, a personal representative “means an executor or an administrator or judicial trustee of the estate of a deceased person and includes a personal representative named in the will whether or not a grant is issued”.

Under the Surrogate Rules, the terms executor, administrator, and trustee are all covered by the term personal representative. The way these three terms differ is in how the personal representative got his or her authority.

Personal Representative Definition: What Do I Actually Have to Do?

As a personal representative, you are responsible for locating everything the deceased person owned, paying the costs of the funeral, applying for probate, paying any debts the deceased person had, paying the deceased person's taxes, and distributing money and property according to the terms set out in the will.

You can get help doing all of this from lawyers, accountants, and others but you are legally responsible for ensuring it all gets done properly. This includes keeping the beneficiaries of the will informed through executor accounting.

Can Anyone Be a Personal Representative?

Yes, as long as you are 18 years of age or over. However, you should have the skills and knowledge to manage the deceased person's affairs, be willing to undertake the job, be an honest person who others trust, and have the time to commit to ensuring the process is done properly.

When it comes to wills and estates, people can have different expectations and relationships can suffer. You should be aware of this and able to keep your cool if disputes erupt. You may be able to apply to the court for advice and direction to resolve any problems that arise.

If you're asked to be a personal representative and you're not sure if you can handle the task, it's best to say no. If you agreed to be appointed as someone's personal representative but aren't sure you want to now that the person has died, do not carry out any personal representative duties until you've spoken with your estate lawyer. You may still be able to decline the role.

Priority Levels for Choosing a Personal Representative

If there is no will, certain people are entitled to apply for a Grant of Administration. The application should be made by the person who has the highest priority and is willing and able. People with priority can renounce and people at the same level of priority can apply. If no one at the level wants to apply, people at a lower level of priority can apply. If the estate is bankrupt and no family is willing to apply, a creditor can apply. The Crown can also apply.

The priority levels are as follows:

  • Surviving spouse or adult interdependent partner
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Other issue of the deceased
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Children of siblings
  • Other next of kin

Preference may be given to people living in Alberta.

If the family cannot agree on who should apply, the court will decide. The court can choose to appoint a neutral personal representative, such as a trust company.


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