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Probate and executorship duties in British Columbia estates

Probate proceedings in British Columbia can be long and complicated, but they can also be relatively simple. It all depends on the size of a particular estate and how the decedent organized it prior to death.

When a British Columbia resident passes away, the need to go through probate proceedings is decided by the policies of the financial institutions or agencies that hold assets included in the decedent's estate. These agencies may demand that the executor of the estate submit an application to receive a representation grant, which allows the executor to be recognized as the legally sanctioned representative of the estate. In order to determine if a representation grant is required, executors can contact the financial institution or agency directly.

During the probate process, the administrator or executor will have a list of basic duties that he or she is in charge of completing. These duties include:

-- Compiling an inventory of all debts and assets

-- Putting together the addresses and names of all beneficiaries and surviving relatives

-- Canceling credit cards, redirecting mail, canceling subscriptions and wrapping up other important matters

-- Taking control of the decedent's assets

-- Paying off all outstanding debts

-- Selling off assets that need to be liquidated

-- Distributing the estate to beneficiaries

The executor of a British Columbia estate will likely have other duties to perform, and ultimately those duties will depend on the unique characteristics of the estate being dealt with. In many circumstances, executors and estate administrators may wish to contract the services of a qualified estate lawyer to help them navigate the probate process when necessary.

Source: gov.bc.ca, "About probate and estate administration," accessed Aug. 12, 2016

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