Probate Lawyers in Calgary AB
Probate exists for several reasons. For instance, the process is put in place to:
- Verify the authenticity of the last will, amount of other estate administration documents
- Finish completing tax returns for the deceased’s estate and personal finances
- Transfer the deceased’s assets to the deceased’s dependents
- Notify creditors and financial institutions to pay debts
- Sorting complicated estates
- Settle disputes over paying inheritances, outstanding debts, and deceased-owned real estate
- Follow the proper legal steps in paying debts accrued or handling income that the estate has earned during the probate process.
- To allow time for any challenges to the integrity of the estate administration process or legitimacy of the deceased person’s final wishes.
What Is The Probate Administration Process?
The Initial Appointment
Once a grant of probate has been accepted by the probate court in which the deceased’s estate and assets reside, the probate process can begin.
The court will assign a personal representative for the estate, typically the “executor or executrix,” as listened in a will. However, if no will has been located, the personal representatives in charge will work as “administrators.”
Executors, executrix, or administrators must be, by probate law, someone with legal priority over the estate or nominated by such person. This can be someone as personal as a named beneficiary in the deceased’s will (often someone specifically named executor or legal heir) or as impersonal as a creditor who works at a financial institution owed by the state.
The Accounting and Evaluation of Property
The grant of probate also gives the probate court the legal ability to appoint a probate referee whose job is to evaluate the entirety of the deceased’s assets, liquid or non-liquid, to file with the court. This could include, but is not limited to;
- Bank accounts, either checking or savings
- Partnerships, corporations, LLCs, or other business interests owned by the deceased
- Copyrights, patents, trademarks, or other intellectual property
- Life insurance, disability insurance, annuities, or different types of insurance policies
- Brokerage accounts, margin accounts, IRAs, health savings accounts, and college savings accounts
- Personal residences, investment properties, or other real estate properties
- Heirlooms, collectibles, antiques, or other personal effects
- Household items
Once the court, by way of the probate referee, has determined the estate’s overall value, the executor or administrator can liquidate any asset not designated to a beneficiary.
Settling Debts and Paying Taxes
Soon after the grant of probate, any creditors that may hold a claim or stake in the deceased’s estate are notified of the ability to collect their share. These creditors then have a period of four months in which to collect their payment from the estate administration, after which the executor/administrator must file the decedent’s and the estate’s final tax returns.
Distribution of Assets
Once the valuables have been tallied by the executor/administration of the estate, with the help of experienced estate lawyers, they may request that the court allow them to distribute the estate assets to the named beneficiaries.
What Happens if the Deceased Does Not Have a Valid Will?
If the deceased who left behind an estate does not have a valid will or thorough estate administration plan, the estate enters a state of intestacy. The intestate estate then enters the probate process under the court’s control, which must follow provincial law. This process differs from province to province, so speak with a probate lawyer or other estate professional about the specifics of your region.
What is the Job of a Probate Lawyer?
Probate lawyers assist the personal representative of the estate in the following duties if they are not placed in the position themselves during the grant of probate;
- Locating, securing, and evaluating the individual assets that are a part of a decedent’s estate
- Finding and collecting insurance policies or other accounts that may have matured upon death
- Appraising the estate’s assets, subjecting them to appraisal, or working alongside a probate referee during the appropriate appraisal of assets
- Managing the finances, both incoming and outgoing, that the working estate may need during the process of probate if there isn’t already a steward in place
- Working with creditors who claim they have a stake in the estate to determine the validity of the debt and advising the payments thereof
- Filing documents that the court may require as they come
- Securing tax accounts or working with accountants during the final income tax filing
This position can be relatively simple for probate lawyers if there is a valid will in place; and a personal representative who does not have extensive experience with the grant of probate, collection of assets, or other parts of probate will want to form a close working relationship with their probate lawyers. Probate lawyers may validate pre- or post-mortem changes to the will or represent the personal representative or challenger if the will’s validity is challenged.
The absence of a valid will can complicate the process of probate for the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. Good estate lawyers can assist with this process from the grant of probate onward. Typically, in the void of a valid will, the court will place a probate lawyer in charge of executing the proper estate administration duties following intestate laws once the grant of probate has been filed.
Issues in the absence of a will often involve two probate lawyers, each representing one side of the will’s challenge, litigating for their respective sides in court.
When you are ready to ensure that the complex and emotionally difficult process of probate is completed as smoothly and without error as possible, it is time to call an experienced probate lawyer to consult. The law team at Getz Collins and Associates is awaiting your call to schedule such an appointment; just dial 403-934-2500 to speak with a representative.