New Estate Administration Act

What is the Estate Administration Act?

The Estate Administration Act is a new act that specifies how an estate is administered when a person dies. It includes plain language to let a Personal Representative know their duties, core tasks, notice requirements and responsibilities in administering an estate. The new act provides a road map to make the law easier to use and understand.

The Estate Administration Act also continues law previously found in the Administration of Estates Act, the Devolution of Real Property Act and rules moved from the Surrogate Rules.

When does the act come into effect?

The act came into effect on June 1, 2015. However, the act also applies to administrations, applications or grants that existed prior to June 1, 2015. You may wish to speak to a lawyer to ensure that you meet any new requirements in the legislation.

Who does the act apply to?

The act applies to a Personal Representative including an executor, administrator or judicial trustee and includes a person acting in the role of a Personal Representative named in a will whether or not a grant is given by the Court.

A grant is a court order confirming or giving the authority to administer the estate to the Personal Representative. The previous legislation applied only to a Personal Representative where the Court gave a grant. However, where a Personal Representative named in a will administers an estate without a grant from the Court, the new act will also apply to them. These Personal Representatives will have the same duties, core tasks, notice requirements and responsibilities as a Personal Representative who gets a grant from the Court.

What should you know about the act?

The act contains duties of a Personal Representative provided 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 in similar circumstances.

A Personal Representative must distribute the estate as soon as possible. The Personal Representative needs to have a good reason if there is delay in administering an estate.

A professional Personal Representative who is hired to administer an estate must administer the estate with a greater degree of skill. Generally, a professional is expected to apply greater skill than a non-professional.

A cross reference to the Funeral Services Act and Cemeteries Act lets the Personal Representative know how to decide who has the authority to deal with the remains of the deceased and to arrange the funeral.

Four core tasks are set out in the act, including:

  • identify the estate assets and liabilities
  • administer and manage the estate
  • satisfy the debts and obligations of the estate, and
  • distribute and account for the estate to the beneficiaries

A schedule in the act provides details of the core tasks.

In identifying estate assets and liabilities, the schedule in the act includes identifying online accounts (digital assets). As part of this core task, the Personal Representative will identify online accounts such as PayPal or virtual bank accounts as well as Facebook, email accounts and other online accounts and take action to deal with them.

In administering and managing the estate, the Personal Representative will have to take positive steps to create and maintain records about the administration of the estate. The Personal Representative will also need to actively report to beneficiaries on an on-going basis.

A Personal Representative named in a will who does not apply for a grant must give specific notices to beneficiaries, family members, the Public Trustee and others. Notice requirements to beneficiaries, family members, the Public Trustee and others found in the prior legislation continue to apply to a Personal Representative who applies for a grant.

A person may bring an application 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 sets out the authority of the Personal Representative. It 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.

All provisions dealing with property for a living minor previously in the Administration of Estates Act have moved to the Minors’ Property Act.

Where can you obtain more information?

To obtain a copy of the Estate Administration Act and the Surrogate Rules and Forms Package, you can visit the Alberta Queen’s Printer website or contact them at the following address:

Alberta Queen’s Printer
7th Floor Park Plaza
10611 98 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2P7
Phone: 780-427-4952
Fax: 780-452-0668

Note: The Government of Alberta cannot give legal advice. If you have questions about administering an estate, please contact your lawyer. Other resources are Law Information Centres (LInC), Alberta Courts and the Law Society of Alberta, Lawyer Referral.