Estate Administration

A close family member has died, and you were named as the executor or executrix in the will. Or there’s no will and you need to figure it out. What do you do next? If some of the following questions are running through your head, it will help if you hire a lawyer. There are also links to other useful resources below. Please contact me, I would be honored to help.

Do I need to probate the will?

If the estate is quite small and there is no land to be transferred, you may not have to probate the will. It will depend on what type of assets the deceased owned, the value of his or her bank accounts, and how willing the institutions holding the assets are to pay out the money without a probated will. If the bank account is less than $30,000 you may be able to have the money transferred to the executor without probating the will. However, if there are large accounts or there is land in the name of the deceased that is not held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship – you must probate the will.

In Saskatchewan, probate fees are $7 for every $1000 passing through the estate. You don’t pay probate fees on assets that pass to a beneficiary outside the will, such as: land or investments held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship; insurance payable to a named beneficiary; and RRSPs and RRIFs payable to named beneficiaries.

What happens when there isn’t a will?

In Saskatchewan, if there isn’t a will then the deceased’s estate will be distributed according to The Intestate Succession Act. Instead of applying to the court for Letters Probate, the person seeking to administer the estate applies for Letters of Administration. The Intestate Succession Act sets out, in order of priority, who has the right to administer the estate. If the person applying for Letters of Administration does not have top priority, or there is more than one person in the class that has equal priority, everyone with greater or equal priority needs to sign a consent form agreeing to that person being the administrator.

The administrator’s job is the same as an executor’s, except instead of looking to a will to determine who inherits, the administrator looks to The Intestate Succession Act.

What happens if there’s a will, but none of the named executors can act?

If there is a will, but all of the executors named in the will have: died; lost their mental capacity; or refused to be an executor – then an application needs to be made to the court for Letters of Administration with Will Annexed. The court will name the administrator who will administer the estate. This person then refers to the will to determine who inherits.

How do I handle an estate?

You’ve become an executor of an estate (executrix if you’re a woman) or you’ve been named as the administrator – now what do you do? The following list of tasks is taken from the Saskatchewan Law Courts website ( :

Although the tasks required to administer an estate will vary according to the exact nature of the estate, these are the more common duties:
• locate the will, if there is one;
• locate all the assets of the deceased and determine the value of each;
• obtain the death certificate and notify the appropriate agencies of the death;
• prepare a list of beneficiaries and their addresses;
• file claims for life insurance, pension plans and death benefits;
• pay the funeral bills (usually banks will pay funeral bills directly from the deceased’s bank account upon production of the bills);
• obtain Letters Probate or Letters of Administration, if required;
• notify the Public Trustee if there are any dependent adults or children (beneficiaries) under the age of 18 years who may have an interest in the estate;
• advertise for creditors, if necessary;
• call in the estate - gather the assets, transfer title of all real property to the estate, arrange for sale of assets as required; place all monies from all sources into an estate bank account;
• pay the bills of the deceased and the estate;
• file the income tax returns for the deceased and the estate and obtain the Clearance Certificate from Canada Customs and Revenue Agency;
• provide an accounting to the beneficiaries with the court within two years;
• obtain releases from the beneficiaries or, if there is a dispute about the management of the estate, arrange for a passing of accounts at the Court House;
• distribute the estate according to the will, if there was one, or to The Intestate Succession Act, if there was not.

How long will it take?

It usually takes between one and two years to wind up an estate. There are often waiting periods, and it takes time to file the tax returns and get a clearance certificate.

Other Estate Planning and Administration Resources:

Wills and Estates – Saskatchewan Law Courts
Information on Probating an Estate, Letters Probate, Letter of Administration, Fees, Duties of an Executor or Administrator, Completing the Estate

A Death in the Family – Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA)
“The death of a family member or close friend is difficult. In addition to the grief of personal loss, those close to the deceased may also have to make a number of pressing decisions about the affairs of the deceased person. All of this can be stressful on those who are left behind.”

Death and Estates – Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA)
The Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA) was incorporated in 1980 as a non-profit, non-government organization that exists to educate, inform and empower through law-related education.

Dealing with Death – Government of Saskatchewan
Information on administering the estate of someone who’s died, burial permits, autopsy report or report of coroner, death registration, stillbirth certificate and death certificates.

Notice: The information provided on this website is general in nature. It does not constitute legal advice to you and no solicitor client relationship will be established. The information pertains to the law and process in Saskatchewan, Canada and may not be applicable in your jurisdiction. You should seek legal advice regarding your circumstances from a lawyer in your jurisdiction.