On June 1, 2015 the Estate Administration Act
("Act") came into force in Alberta. This
Act updates the previous laws which dictate how an
executor, or "personal representative", will have to
administer the estate of a deceased person. The new law applies
whether or not the deceased had a will at the time of death.
One of the main purposes of the Act was to modernize
the language and the approach taken to administering estates. The
new law sets out the duties of the personal representative in plain
language and imposes some additional responsibilities as well.
While it has always been the case that a personal representative
is a fiduciary, the new law specifically describes what this means
in more accessible terms. 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." They must also distribute the estate "as soon
Additionally, the new Act sets out four "core
tasks" required of personal representatives:
To identify the estate assets and liabilities.
This includes ensuring that all relevant benefits (including
pensions and life insurance policies) are collected, as well as
determining the value of any land, investments and all other
property owned by the deceased.
To administer and manage the estate. The
personal representative must keep accurate accounts of all money
coming into and out of the estate. They must ensure that all of the
estate property is properly insured and they must manage the
on-going operation of any businesses operated by the deceased.
To satisfy the debts and obligations of the
estate. The personal representative must ensure that all
proper, legitimate expenses and debts of the estate are paid,
including any taxes owing by the deceased. The personal
representative may need to advertise for creditors.
To distribute and account for the estate to the
beneficiaries. The personal representative must notify all
people who are receiving a gift from the deceased. They will also
administer any money that is left in trust for minors or other
beneficiaries, and distribute the estate according to the terms of
the will or the intestacy provisions in the Wills and
This is not a complete list of the changes included in the new
legislation, and as always, executors are encouraged to obtain
legal advice to ensure that they are correctly completing all
Any changes that are made to legislation with the purpose of
making the law more accessible to citizens should be viewed as
welcome. However, personal representatives should be reminded that
they may need professional assistance from lawyers, accountants or
other professionals in order to ensure that they are acting with
the good faith, reasonableness and diligence that the new
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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