Administration of Estates

Contact us for your Ontario estate legal needs

Notary services by Rita law

Estate Advice

We can help executors plan the next steps. Cancelling pensions, maintaining property and vehicle insurance, dealing with creditors, transferring the car or real estate. Our Estate Lawyers in Ottawa can advise you on the duties and risks of being an Executor.
Real Estate Law Services provided by Rita Law

Estate Accounting

From simple steps like registering a survivorship application on behalf of a surviving joint owner of a house, to Court applications for an appointment of an Estate Trustee such as to probate a will, to dealing with hostile beneficiaries – we can do the necessary legal work.
Administration of wills and estates services by Rita Law


We prepare estate accounting up to court standards to satisfy the beneficiaries that they will receive their fair share.

Does the estate need to be Probated?  Who decides?  What is Probate?

Probate is a Court Order that confirms the authenticity of a Will and the appointment of the Executor.  It is not always necessary.

At its simplest, Estate Administration is transferring assets from the deceased to the beneficiaries.  Often there is someone called a “stakeholder” who must be satisfied that the transfer is legitimate.  The written Will of a deceased person “speaks for itself”; meaning it has its own authority. For some items, a stakeholder may be satisfied by a notarized copy of the will, a death certificate, and a sworn statement from the Executor.  However, for items of greater value, the stakeholder demands the authority of a Court document:   a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will (commonly called “letters probate”) or a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee without a Will (commonly called “letters of administration”).

Examples of stakeholders:   In Ottawa, if a person dies owning real estate and there is no surviving joint tenant, the Land Registrar insists in most cases upon a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee (there are exceptions for property of very little value or for property that has been held for many years by the same owner).    Another example:     every chartered bank has its own money threshold below which it will waive probate and above which it will insist on probate.    Publicly traded shares?   Often the transfer agent will require probate.

Probate triggers a nuisance tax, the Estate Administration Tax (“EAT”).  It is a nuisance tax because it is a relatively low rate $15 per thousand after $50,000.00) and because it is arbitrary:  if one asset requires probate, then the tax is payable on the entire estate. Fortunately, the estate does not include jointly owned property passing by survivorship or life insurance paid to a named beneficiary.

Because of recent amendments to the Estate Administration Tax Act, the Ontario Minister of Finance has the right to audit an estate for assets not properly disclosed in the application to appoint an Estate Trustee, and to extract from the Executor any taxes owing even four years after the application was made. Therefore, it is more important than ever that Estate Trustees keep accurate and complete records of the value of assets in an estate.

What are the duties of an Executor?

Protect the property by keeping meticulous records–you need to satisfy the beneficiaries, Canada Revenue Agency, and, if the estate is probated, the Ontario Minister of Finance.

What happens if Executors disagree?

Executors are expected to sort out their disagreements between themselves, because they, and not the Court, are responsible for making decisions about the management of an estate. To resolve a dispute, the Executors may need the help of a professional mediator, accountant, or an estates lawyer. As a last resort, the Executors could apply to the Court to appoint a different Executor, such as a trust company.

What happens if beneficiaries disagree with the Executor’s decisions?

The decisions of an Executor can be challenged in Court.    Both the Executor and the beneficiaries need to know that if they behave unreasonably, they (and not the estate) may have to pay Court Costs arising from Estate Litigation.

Our firm proudly continues the practice of Robin D. MacKay and Associates.