Oct 24, 2022
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When a close friend or family member dies, they may name you as their estate executor in their will. If you’ve found yourself in this situation and are wondering what your responsibilities will be, then you’ve come to the right place.
Being an executor can be a demanding job: You’ll need patience, stamina, and a support system to help you through it. If you don’t feel capable of the job, you can always decline the role. However, keep in mind that being someone’s executor is also a huge honor: You’re ensuring that your loved one’s estate is being properly dealt with, and making sure that their wishes are being met. Nonetheless, it’s always a good idea to know exactly what will lie ahead.
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The first step an estate executor in Alberta will have to undertake is to locate the will of the deceased and submit it to the Alberta probate court in order to apply for a grant of probate. Once the court has approved the application and issued a grant of probate, the estate executor will officially be authorized to carry out their duties.
In Alberta, the probate court will also require a probate fee to be paid. However, the fees in Alberta are some of the lowest in the country and are capped at $525 for estates worth over $250,000.
The next step will be to set up an estate bank account where all financial transactions pertaining to the estate can be carried out. In addition to using the account to pay outstanding bills and taxes on behalf of the estate, this account will also ultimately be used to distribute funds to the named beneficiaries.
As executor, it is now your responsibility to make funeral arrangements for the deceased and send out notifications of death, including to service providers such as the deceased’s landlord, utility companies, phone and internet providers, and to insurance providers. If the deceased received payments from CPP survivors benefit, Old Age Security, and Guaranteed Income Supplement, those benefits will also need to be suspended. Finally, subscriptions and credit cards in the deceased’s name will need to be cancelled as well.
One of the most important and challenging jobs of an estate executor will consist of creating an inventory of all the assets in the estate and appraising their value. This list will have to include any vehicles, individually-held real estate, investment accounts, personal belongings, jewelry, antiques, furniture, life insurance policies, and more.
An estate executor will have to file a number of returns, including any outstanding tax returns the deceased may have had (including a terminal return). The executor also has to submit an estate income tax return if any assets—such as investments—earn income during the probate period.
Another important part of an estate executor’s job is dealing with any outstanding debt. The debt is paid from the estate, so if the debt is particularly large then an estate executor may be faced with some tough choices, such as selling a beloved house that hasn’t explicitly been bequeathed to a beneficiary in order to cover the debt.
Once all of an estate’s assets have been documented and all debt has been paid, the estate executor can submit a summary to probate court detailing all the actions and transactions made on behalf of the estate. Only then can the deceased’s assets be distributed according to the will. This can include bequeathing funds to beneficiaries, donating assets to charities, or creating trusts for individuals or corporations. The will usually also stipulates how these funds will be managed.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about your duties as an estate executor, then don’t worry. ClearEstate is a team of dedicated experts who’ll provide you with the information you need and guide you through every step of the process. Get in touch for a free consultation today.
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