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Estate Settlement

Estate Settlement

Are you managing the Estate settlement for a loved one? Being an Estate Trustee can be an overwhelming experience.

Here’s a quick guide about what to expect and how to prepare for the process ahead.

Download our Estate Trustee checklist (PDF, 788 KB)

The estate settlement process

Make immediate arrangements

Make funeral arrangements, get multiple copies of the Proof of Death certificate and locate the will.

Tell the financial institution

Notify the right people and financial institutions. This could include multiple banks or credit unions, an accountant, a lawyer, a realtor, and the Canada Revenue Agency to cancel scheduled pension payments. Most institutions will require an original Proof of Death Certificate.

Consider probate

Probate is a process to validate the will. The role of an Estate Trustee is to protect the Estate’s assets, settle debts and carry out the deceased’s intentions in accordance with their will.

Settle the estate

Once all the debts are paid and a final tax return is completed, the remaining assets can be distributed to the Estate beneficiaries.

Notifying financial institutions

In order to make the process as smooth as possible, bring the following to your appointment:

  • Original or notarized copy of the Proof of Death Certificate (usually provided by the funeral home or hospital in which the deceased had passed)
  • Original or notarized copy of the last will
  • Invoices related to funeral expenses
  • Utility bills related to estate property (gas, water, etc.)
  • Account information or recent account statements if available
  • Valid identification (Driver’s License, Passport, etc.)

Estate-related language can be complicated. This glossary will help clarify the meaning of some commonly used terms.

  • Asset: property owned by a person, regarded as having value and available to meet debts or commitments
  • Beneficiary: A person who inherits all or part of the money or property (assets) of the Estate
  • Death Certificate: The Death Certificate or Funeral Director’s Statement of Death is typically provided by the funeral home or provincial authorities. It registers the Deceased’s death with the province.
  • Designated Beneficiary: A person who is designated as the beneficiary of a registered product that is not considered part of the Estate.
  • Estate Account: A chequing or savings account, registered in the name of the Estate that can be used to consolidate the Estate’s assets during the administration period, helping Estate Trustee's manage Estate transactions, including disbursing funds to beneficiaries.
  • Estate Trustee: The person appointed under a Will to control and protect the Estate's assets, pay off any debts and distribute the estate assets in accordance with the terms of the Will.
  • Probate: Also known as CAET (Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee). The official confirmation of the validity of the Will by the courts, confirming the Estate Trustee’s legal authority.
  • Will: A legal document that expresses a person's wishes as to how their property is to be distributed after their death and as to which person (the Estate Trustee) is to manage the property until its final disbursement to the beneficiaries.