Estate Administrators – Handle Problems When There Is No Last Will  

Allison was retired and 64 when she passed away in Ontario. She thought she was too young to need a will. She died without a will leaving a sister, Joy, in California and her brother in British Columbia. They wanted to administer Allison’s affairs. But they had no legal documents to allow them to do anything.

Estate Administrators

Joy called my office asking if she could apply to be Allison’s estate administrator. I explained that Ontario estate administrators no longer apply for letters of administration. Instead, Ontario requires persons to apply for certificates of appointment of estate trustee without a will.

Only residents of Ontario can act as estate trustee without a will.   

Neither of Allison’s siblings could apply as her estate’s legal representative.  Allison’s family was forced to pay for a professional executor to administrator Allison’s estate.  

Estate Trustees Without Wills Are Estate Administrators

You can imagine the delay this had on distributing Allison’s assets to beneficiaries.   

What happens to Allison’s business? Who takes care of her pets? Or the financial support she was providing to an elderly parent?    

Until a court certificate is obtained, no one is in charge of Allison’s financial affairs. No one can make decisions or legally gain access to her property. 

When there is no named executor or estate trustee, relatives may need to hire professional administrators. This option includes a trust company, lawyer or accountant at additional expense. 

Other jurisdictions may still use the term Letters of Administration to confirm administrators are court appointed without wills. The court appointment specifies what rights and obligations administrators have, unlike executors, who have the powers given to them by law and wills.  

Ontario Courts Appoint Estate Trustees Without Wills

When a person dies without a will, they cannot name an executor. If you die intestate without making a will, the government is forced to write one for you. The government’s will gives you no say on when your money is distributed or who is in charge.  

Administering an estate without a will can take at least an extra year or more to complete. Courts can require administrators to purchase a bond of indemnity to protect creditors and beneficiaries This bond adds delay and extra costs in handling estates.

The government’s intestate rules are not flexible and specify who can be appointed as your estate’s legal representative. 

 Is there a significant difference between being an executor and an estate administrator? Yes.

Executor’s authority comes from being named a will when someone passes away. In some cases, probate may not be required and executors can wrap up the estate quickly in a matter of weeks or months.  

This is not the case when there is no will and therefore no executor.  

You must apply in court to be appointed as administrator. Assuming relatives agree, this still can take months or longer. It is a time-consuming process with unnecessary suffering and expense.   

Administrators have no powers until court appointments are made.  These powers do not cover operating costs for any business. Businesses must be liquidated.  

Executors can be given powers to operate a business until it is sold.   

Ontario Executor Tip: Name a backup executor in wills to avoid needing an administrator. 

Download my free report for Ontario executors called: Suddenly You’re an Ontario Executor…Start Your Ontario Executor Journey Here .

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Are you outside of Ontario but need help with an Ontario estate? I work by appointment only. Contact my office to set up an appointment.

Ed Olkovich, Toronto Lawyer and Certified Estate Specialist 2020 ©