We are currently experiencing intermittent phone disruptions. Please email reception@west-legal.ca for assistance.

Your Duties Checklist

Executor (Personal Representative) Duties in Alberta

If you’ve ever acted as an Estate Executor, or Personal Representative, before, you’ll know that there is considerable responsibility and work involved in the Estate administration process. If you’re a first-time Executor, it can be daunting to know where to start. To help, we’ve put together this checklist of Alberta Executor duties. While it’s not an exhaustive list, and while the circumstances of each Estate are different, we hope that this list serves as a helpful guidepost for you during the Estate administration process.

At West Legal, we believe that Estate administration requires a team approach. Before you review the checklist below, we recommend that you read this article first. It will help you better understand the resources that are available to you, and the organizations and people that you’ll deal with throughout the Estate administration process.

We always recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified probate lawyer before undertaking any Estate administration responsibilities on your own. While probate isn’t always necessary, a probate lawyer can advise you of your obligations to the Estate based on your specific circumstances.

The following checklist outlines many of the tasks that you, as an Alberta Estate Executor, will need to complete throughout the Estate administration process:

Preliminary Steps: To Be Completed Immediately Following Death

  • Locate the deceased’s Will
  • Make funeral arrangements
  • Make cremation/burial arrangements
  • Obtain a ‘Funeral Director’s Statement of Death’ from the funeral home
  • Apply for a Death Certificate from the government
  • Arrange for immediate care of the deceased’s dependents and pets, where applicable
  • Meet with a Wills & Estates lawyer to review the deceased’s last Will and confirm that you’re entitled to act as the Estate’s Executor
  • Secure the deceased’s home and any other recognizable assets that may be subject to theft or loss
  • Obtain/update insurance for any real estate, property, or vehicles owned by the deceased
  • Ensure that the deceased’s spouse or partner has access to cash for immediate needs, where possible

Alberta Grasslands

Follow-Up Steps: To Be Completed Within 30 Days of Death

  • Meet with the deceased’s family members, where appropriate and/or necessary
  • Pay for the funeral
  • Take full stock of the deceased’s assets—look for documentation amongst the deceased’s belongings, meet with financial institutions, contact family members, etc.
  • Cancel credit cards and debit cards
  • Notify all asset managers and asset custodians of the deceased’s death; i.e. banks, investment advisors, brokerages, life insurance companies, etc.
  • Notify the deceased’s debt holders of the deceased’s death (i.e. mortgage lenders, credit card companies, banks, vehicle loan holders, etc.)
  • Cancel all subscriptions (Netflix, periodicals, gym memberships, roadside vehicle assistance, etc.)
  • Notify all utility companies/service providers of the deceased’s death and amend service plans as necessary (i.e., home utilities, internet, telephone, etc.)
  • Set up mail forwarding so that you receive any mail addressed to the deceased or the Estate
  • Notify Service Canada of the deceased’s death, as payments from Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age
  • Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), and other payments will need to be stopped
  • Apply for the one-time CPP death benefit
  • Open an Estate Account—any funds that come into the Estate should go into this account
  • Meet with your Wills & Estates lawyer to determine whether probate is necessary
  • Advise beneficiaries of the Estate administration timeline—if you’ve retained a lawyer to assist with probate, they’ll give you a rough timeline that you can provide to beneficiaries in order to manage their expectations
  • Meet with a realtor to discuss next steps for selling any real estate
  • If the deceased rented their home, notify the landlord and arrange to move the deceased’s belongings to another secure location

Estate Distribution Steps While Awaiting Probate: To Be Completed Within 90 days of Applying for Probate

In most cases, Estate distribution isn’t possible until the Estate Executor obtains a Grant of Probate. However, the steps listed below can be completed, or at least initiated, while you’re awaiting a Grant of Probate:

  • Prepare a full inventory of the deceased’s assets and liabilities
  • Meet with an investment advisor to plan for stewardship of any trust funds
  • Obtain valuations for all assets
  • Make arrangements with creditors for debt repayment
  • Advertise/post notice for any unknown creditors
  • Undertake searches for any missing beneficiaries
  • Determine whether the beneficiaries wish to receive their shares of the Estate in cash, or via in-kind distribution of specific assets (if the Will permits in-kind distribution)
  • Arrange for transfer of assets passing outside of the Estate, where necessary and appropriate (i.e. life insurance policies, RRSPs, TFSAs, etc. that have named beneficiaries)
  • Retain a lawyer to handle any legal claims initiated against the Estate

Estate Distribution Steps After Probate is Issued: To be Completed Within 3-12 Months of Obtaining a Grant of Probate

  • Transfer ownership of real estate and vehicles to the Estate
  • Liquidate any assets that are not to be distributed in kind
  • Provide the deceased’s financial institutions with a copy of the Grant of Probate
  • Transfer all liquid assets and proceeds from illiquid assets into the Estate account
  • Develop an Estate distribution plan with the input of Estate beneficiaries and the guidance of your probate lawyer
  • Have your probate lawyer prepare a proposed distribution table, Executor compensation schedule, and releases for each beneficiary to sign
  • Distribute the beneficiaries’ shares to them upon receiving signed releases from each Estate beneficiary
  • Reimburse yourself for any expenses incurred during the administration of the Estate
  • Pay for any legal fees, invoices, or other professional fees that have been incurred during the administration of the Estate
  • Pay yourself any Executor fees which you’re entitled to

After Distribution is Complete: To be Completed Within 3-12 Months of the Distribution of Estate Assets

  • File all necessary tax returns with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
  • Obtain a Clearance Certificate from the CRA
  • Pay any accountant fees
  • Distribute any leftover or unused funds that were held back to fulfill tax obligations, to the residuary beneficiaries of the Estate
  • Have each Estate beneficiary sign a final release
  • Ensure that all of your documentation is in order—organize your files, ensure that all financial and other records are printed and in order, and maintain the same in case of any future legal challenges
  • Close the Estate account once all cheques have cleared, the balance has been fully distributed, and no further revenue receipts are expected

Signing an Enduring Power of Attorney

The Importance of Professional Legal Advice

If you’re an Estate Executor, it’s important that you obtain professional legal advice before completing the tasks outlined above. The above checklist is intended to provide an outline of the responsibilities that you may encounter as an Estate Executor and is by no means an exhaustive list of your legal or other obligations. It’s also worth considering that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to Estate administration is largely ineffective. Each Estate is unique and may require the Executor to complete tasks that aren’t mentioned above and fulfill their responsibilities in an order and timeline that differs from the above.

Our Probate Lawyers Are Here to Guide You Through the Estate Administration Process

While the above may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that effective Estate administration requires a team approach. If you’re an Estate Executor or Personal Representative, the trusted probate lawyers at West Legal can guide you through the Estate administration process. If you’re an Estate Executor, contact West Legal today for a free-of-charge, no-obligation consultation. We’ll help you determine what your responsibilities are to the Estate and the most efficient, cost-effective means of fulfilling those obligations.


Contact a Calgary Probate Lawyer today

probate@west-legal.ca or 403-723-0175 to get started.

Leave a Reply