Administering estates of deceased people

Find out how to administer the estate of a deceased person in Alberta.

What is the Estate Administration Act?

The Estate Administration Act is a new Act that consolidates the Administration of Estates Act, the Devolution of Real Property Act and several substantive rules moved from the Surrogate Rules of Court.

This Act specifies how an estate is administered when a person dies. It includes plain language to let a personal representative know their role, duties and responsibilities in administering an estate. The new Act makes the law easier to use and understand.

When does the Act come into effect?

The Act was passed by the Alberta Legislature on March 20, 2014. It’s expected to come into effect in the Spring of 2015. This allows time for reforms to the Surrogate Rules.

What has changed?

There are several important changes, such as the following:

  • in addition to the jurisdiction of the Court where the deceased resided in Alberta or left property in Alberta, the Court has new jurisdiction to issue a grant if the Court is satisfied a grant is necessary
  • the common law role of a personal representative as a fiduciary is stated in plain language. The personal representative must act honestly and in good faith; in accordance with the testator’s intention and with the will, if one exists; and with the care, diligence and skill that a prudent person would exercise.
  • the requirement that a personal representative must distribute the estate as soon as practicable
  • a professional personal representative acting or retained in their professional capacity must administer the estate with a greater degree of skill
  • a cross reference to the Funeral Services Act and Cemeteries Act advises a personal representative on how to determine who has the authority to dispose of the remains and arrange the funeral
  • four core tasks are set out in the Act and a Schedule provides details of the core tasks. The core tasks are: to identify the estate assets and liabilities; to administer and manage the estate; to satisfy the debts and obligations of the estate; and to distribute and account for the estate to the beneficiaries. In identifying estate assets and liabilities, the schedule includes online accounts (digital assets).
  • the duties and core tasks apply to all personal representatives whether they apply for a grant or not. Specific notice requirements apply both to a personal representative named in a will who does not apply for a grant and to a personal representative who applies for a grant.
  • an application may be brought to the Court if a personal representative refuses or fails to provide the specified notice, or to perform a duty or core task
  • a new single provision provides that a personal representative stands in the shoes of the deceased person and has all the same powers of the deceased person to administer the estate subject to the will and the Act
  • a statutory order applies where the estate does not have enough funds to pay the debts and to distribute the gifts under the will (marshalling rules)
  • security interests and agreements for sale are treated the same as other charges against specific property of the deceased person’s estate (that property is primarily responsible for payment of that charge)
  • all provisions dealing with a minor’s property previously in the Administration of Estates Act have moved to the Minors Property Act

How will you be affected if you’re already administering an estate?

The new Act will apply to existing administrations, applications and grants when it comes into effect. You may wish to speak to a lawyer to ensure that you meet any new requirements in the legislation.

Note: The Government of Alberta cannot give legal advice. If you have questions about administering an estate, please contact your lawyer.

Where can you obtain more information?

To obtain a copy of Bill 4, you can visit the Legislature of Alberta website.

To obtain a copy of the Act (after Royal Assent), you can visit the Alberta Queen’s Printer website or contact them directly:

Alberta Queen’s Printer Bookstore
5th Floor Park Plaza
10611 98 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2P7

Phone: 780-427-4952
Fax: 780-452-0668