Unfortunately, some people die without making proper arrangements regarding their estates. Ontario residents who die intestate – or without wills – may have a loved one step up to the plate wanting to take on the responsibilities of being an estate trustee. But is that even doable? In many instances, yes, if appointed by the court.
Must reside in Ontario
Only those who live in the province can apply to become a trustee of an estate. As well, there is a pecking order regarding those who can apply: a married spouse, a common-law partner or a child, grandchild or other family members such as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Those who are considering becoming an estate trustee – also known as an executor, estate representative, estate administrator or liquidator – should have a solid understanding of what the position involves.
The application process
If you wish to apply to become an estate trustee, you must start by filling out a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee without a Will at the Superior Court of Justice. This application confirms that you have the legal right to take on the task. It’s important that you also check to see whether anyone else has applied for the role by checking at the courthouse. If more than one person has applied, the court will send notifications to all of you, and a judge will make the decision on which application will move forward in the process.
Dying without a will can cause all kinds of problems, but the truth is, it does happen. Thankfully, Ontario does make some provisions for family members whose loved ones die without wills – such as this ability to apply for trusteeship. Acting as an executor takes time and some business acumen. It also helps to have some knowledge of estate laws, which can be obtained through the advice of a lawyer with estate planning experience.