An individual's estate can be very basic or very complex. We will provide you with the answers to some most frequently asked questions regarding an individual's estate.

Q: Do I need a lawyer to administer an estate?

It is not necessary to hire a lawyer to assist in the administration of the estate. Certain probate documents need to be declared before a Notary or Commissioner for Oaths. Some financial institutions require notarial copies of the Will or the Grant of Probate. Notary services can be obtained on a fee-for-service basis.

What are the responsibilities of an Executor?

It is the Executor's job (Executrix if female) to locate the original signed Will and apply to the Court of Queen's Bench to have the Will probated. The Court reviews the Request for Probate and accompanying documents. This includes a detailed inventory of assets owned by the deceased at the date of death. If the Court is satisfied that the Will is valid, the Court will issue a Grant of Probate. The Grant of Probate authorized the Executor to settle the estate. The Executor also has the responsibility of verifying and paying any outstanding debts and financial obligations of the deceased. Debts must be paid before any bequests are given out. Collecting any debts owed to the deceased is also a responsibility of the Executors. Those payments become part of the residue of the estate. The Executor must ensure that final tax returns are filed for the deceased and for the estate. When the assets have been identified and debts and fees have been paid, it is the Executor's responsibility to pay out the estate in accordance with the deceased's wishes as set out in the Will.

Q: Who pays the bills of the deceased?

It is the Executor's responsibility to pay the deceased's debts. The Executor also has the authority, on behalf of the estate, to incur funeral expenses.

Q: Is probate always necessary?

No, it is not always necessary to apply for probate. The decision to apply for probate of a Will depends on a number of factors including the nature of the assets owned by the deceased and the size of the estate.

Q: What if there is no Will?

A person who dies without a valid Will is considered to have died intestate. In that case, anyone with an interest in the estate may apply to the Court for permission to administer the deceased's affairs. Without the guidance of a Will, the Administer of an estate has little discretion in the distribution of the assets. In Manitoba, The Intestate Succession Act governs the distribution of the estate of a person who dies intestate.

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