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BC Executor Duties Checklist

Struggling with Probate in BC? get the info you need to complete your fiduciary duty using our 11-step probate checklist for executors in BC.

BC probate checklist 1

Being appointed as an executor can feel like a lot of pressure. We know. ClearEstate was formed after Alex Gauthier, one of the Co-Founders of ClearEstate lost his mother and was tasked with dealing with her Estate.

During this time, he realized how stressful and overwhelming it is to be an executor all while experiencing the emotional cost of losing his mother. He felt alone, confused, and overwhelmed.

If you’re tasked with settling the estate of your loved one, you don’t have to feel alone. We are here to help - Which is why we created this 11-step BC probate checklist for executors in British Columbia.

Let’s get into it!

Step 1. Funeral Arrangements

GOAL: Arrange for funeral

WHEN: Right after death

DURATION: 5 to 10 days

  • Arrange for organ donation. (if applicable)
  • Find the will, if available.
  • Make funeral arrangements.
  • Request 8 copies of the Statement of Death from the funeral home.
  • Apply for a provincial Death Certificate from the government.
  • Coordinate care for dependents and pets.
  • Contact the deceased’s bank to ensure payments such as utilities, funeral, etc.
  • Coordinate with family members to notify friends and family of the passing.
  • Confirm payment of the funeral.

Step 2. First Notifications

GOAL: Submit official paperwork to protect the estate

WHEN: 0 to 10 days after the funeral

DURATION: A few days

  • Apply for CPP Death Benefits, for the estate to receive $2,500.
  • Apply for CPP Survivor’s Benefits, to transfer the pension to the spouse and provide children under 25 with benefits.
  • Submit CRA Notification to Update Record.
  • Submit OAS/CPP/GIS notification.
  • Submit a Notice of Death to Equifax and TransUnion.

ClearEstate can help with all the following steps of the estate settlement process. We offer a free 30-minute consultation to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have. Completely free of charge.

Step 3. Secure the Hard Assets

GOAL: Protect the Estate by securing the value of the hard assets

WHEN: 0 to 30 days after the funeral

DURATION: 2 -3 weeks

  • Find and secure all assets: home, contents of the home, other real estate.
  • Forward mail.
  • Notify all service providers: Utility companies, Landlord, Property maintenance, alarm company.
  • Obtain insurance for any vacant real estate.
  • Obtain a professional valuation of all assets over $3,000.
  • Find and review all asset-related documents: property insurance, mortgage, lease, business, investment, will, etc.
  • Review all documents relating to financial obligations: contracts, divorce or separation agreement, court orders.
  • Secure personal property, business, vehicle, perishable goods, safety deposit box.

Step 4. Secure the Financial Assets

GOAL: Prepare for probate, by doing an inventory of all assets and liabilities

WHEN: 10 to 45 days after the funeral

DURATION: 1-2 weeks

  • Find out about ongoing expenses and debts.
  • Stop all unnecessary expenses: Subscriptions (magazine, theatre), Health care (home care), Memberships (gym, club, sports, auto, professional, etc), Entertainment (cable, satellite, websites), Communication (telephone, cell phone, Internet), Insurance (auto, disability).
  • Notify all holders of assets: Bank, Broker, Investment advisor, Insurer.
  • Cancel credit and debit cards


Step 5. Inform beneficiaries

GOAL: Create transparency for everyone and dramatically reduce the risk of litigation

WHEN: 30 to 45 days after the funeral

DURATION: 1-3 days

  • Finalize the inventory of all assets and their value on Day of Death.
  • If you have the will, contact all the named beneficiaries individually to let them know:

- that you have completed the inventory of assets,

- that they have been named beneficiaries,

- share what they are entitled to, to be confirmed after taxes and debts have been settled,

- any issues (debts, process delays, etc),

- next steps: probate application, settlement of debts, taxes, etc. If there is no will:

- create a family tree,

- follow the rules of distribution of an intestate estate in the estate’s jurisdiction,

- contact the beneficiaries that are entitled to an inheritance.

  • Prepare the 1st distribution of some of the personal and sentimental belongings.
  • Remember that probate is required to transfer cash or hard assets.
  • Inform beneficiaries of your intention to receive compensation or not for your role as executor.
Inform beneficiaries

Step 6. Probate Application

GOAL: Probate is the act of confirming the last will and testament of the deceased, and/or appointing an executor for the estate to carry out proper distribution.

WHEN: 30 to 60 days after the funeral

DURATION: 1-2 weeks

  • Seek support from an estate professional: trust office, estate attorney or ClearEstate. Calculate the probate tax fee in your given jurisdiction.
  • Prepare the probate application with the support of an estate professional.
  • File the probate application with the deceased’s local courthouse, along with all the required documents, including the original Will for testate estates.
  • Visit the BC courts website to get the required probate forms

You can also read our guide to obtaining a grant of probate here

Step 7. While waiting for the grant of probate

GOAL: Probate may take months, but that’s no reason to stay idle

WHEN: 5 to 12 months after the funeral

DURATION: 2 to 9 months

  • Collect any money owed to the deceased.
  • Cancel Passport, Driver’s License and health card (to avoid identity theft).
  • Book a meeting with an investment advisor.
  • Create a plan liquidating the assets.
  • If there is real estate, find a broker, negotiate rates and prepare the listing to post once the grant of probate is received.
  • Organize an estate sale for personal belongings that have not been claimed by the beneficiaries. Organize donations, when appropriate.
  • Prepare the real estate for a sale: makeover, cleaning, etc. Prepare life insurance forms (to be submitted later).
  • Regularly communicate with the beneficiaries to let them know you are still waiting and that things are normal

Step 8. Liquidate the Assets

To note:

The grant of probate unlocks your ability to do the following steps. You cannot start on those following steps without the grant.

GOAL: Liquidate the assets and aggregate under a single estate bank account

WHEN: Immediately after receiving the grant of probate

DURATION: 2 to several weeks

  • Arrange the opening of an estate bank account with your financial institution or the deceased’s.
  • Transfer all bank accounts to the estate account.
  • List any real estate for sale.
  • Request all mutual funds, stocks, bonds to be liquidated and transferred to the estate account.
  • Deposit all the proceeds from the estate sale, safes, safety deposit box in the estate account.

Step 9. Settle All Debts and prepare taxes

GOAL: Ready the estate for distribution by settling the debts and preparing taxes

WHEN: 2-4 weeks after receiving the grant of probate

DURATION: 1 to 2 weeks

  • Schedule payment of all debts.
  • Make an appointment with an accountant, or your ClearEstate professional.
  • Prepare all estate-related documents: receipts, statements, T4, etc.
  • Have ClearEstate or your accountant prepare the Terminal tax report.
  • Have ClearEstate or your accountant prepare the T3 Estate tax report.
  • Once you have received the Notice of Assessment (NoA), have ClearEstate or your accountant request the Tax Clearance Certificate

Step 10. First Distribution

GOAL: Coordinate with beneficiaries to distribute some of the inheritance

WHEN: 1-2 weeks after filing taxes

DURATION: 1 to 2 weeks

  • Prepare to distribute up to 80% of the value of the estate.
  • The remaining should be kept, interest-free, in an account until you receive the NoA.
  • Have the beneficiaries sign a receipt of the distribution.
First distributions

Step 11. Final Distribution

GOAL: Coordinate with beneficiaries for the final distribution of the inheritance

WHEN: 1-2 weeks after filing taxes

DURATION: 1 to 2 weeks

  • Prepare to distribute the remainder of the estate.
  • Have the beneficiaries sign a Final Release.
  • Close the estate bank account.
  • Cancel the Social Insurance Number.

Need help with probate in BC?

We can help. ClearEstate is backed by probate professionals, tax experts, and estate professionals with decades of experience in estate administration in British Columbia. - We have the expertise and resources necessary to help you throughout the entire estate administration process.

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