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Who represents the estate when there is no will?

estates executor probate Mar 04, 2020

If there is no will, certain people are entitled to apply for a Grant of Administration. This is the type of Grant that is used when there is no will.  The application should be made by the person who has the highest priority and is willing and able. People with preference can renounce, and people at the same level of priority can apply. If no one at the level wants to use, 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 children 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. While this may sound easy and...

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Resealing Foreign Grants: How can we help?

estates probate Feb 26, 2020

We regularly act for lawyers and clients throughout the world. We have completed Canadian Probate applications from Thailand, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Texas, Hawaii, New York, North Dakota, and recently handled an estate in Scotland that had a resealing issue.

Our office can be appointed to act as the executors' agent and to call in the assets of the estate and wire the proceeds to beneficiaries. The most recent Scottish Estate application we handled took almost 12 months and cost the Scottish executor $6000.00 CDN. 

We were asked recently about handling a Thai estate. Given that the deceased was a Thailand resident, I would expect that this application would take about a year to obtain and that there would be several packages that would need to be couriered between our respective countries to get the appropriate signatures. 

By way of background, Thailand has to very different rules when it comes to the probate of an estate and cannot easily be resealed...

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Protecting Your Business from Capital Gains Tax

estates tax Feb 20, 2019

As a business owner, your estate plan should address both your personal and business assets. However, estate planning for business owners is more complicated as it needs to address potential tax issues.  If you want to maximize the wealth of your estate by minimizing its tax burden, an estate freeze is a useful tool. 


Any assets not inherited by the surviving spouse or common-law partner are a “deemed disposition” immediately upon death.  This is primarily treated as a sale at fair market value, which is subject to capital gains tax.  If the value of your business has grown over the years, this could leave your family and estate with a potentially significant financial burden. 

Your business is part of your estate, and its value as an asset can be significantly depleted by capital gains tax!


An estate freeze, where the value of your business is frozen as of a certain date, is one of the most useful ways to...

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How long does it take to deal with an estate?

estates Sep 12, 2018

In Alberta, there is a common-law rule of thumb that an executor has one year from the date of death to complete their administration of an estate. This means that they have 365 days to collect in estate assets, pay estate debts and liabilities, and distribute the residue in accordance with the terms of the Will. Sometimes, this rule of thumb is followed and an executor successfully completes all of their duties within one year. Other times, and generally when the estate is more complex, the administration can take far longer. For example, if provisions such as a minor's trust clause or a Henson Trust are included in a Will, the estate may not be closed for many years.

It is unreasonable to demand or expect a full distribution of the estate in less than one year. In addition to their many other responsibilities, the executor must obtain a tax clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which could take up to 18 months or more to obtain. Many times, a portion of the...

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