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? About how long settlement time of estate-will in Canada
Old 01-11-2014, 04:10 PM   #1
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? About how long settlement time of estate-will in Canada

Hope you dont mind reading this brief summary.
My Canadian cousin, who lives in British Columbia, died in July of '13. Her beneficiaties were myself and her best friend...divided equally. She was a resident of an assistant living home for approx. 1 yr., had a few pieces of furniture, some mutual funds (we are estimating worth about $200,000 CDN, no debt and had sold her home over a yr. earlier and had put the $ into those mutual funds. Since her passing I went to Canada and was given her ashes (she left no instructions other than cremation) and her friends and I had an informal gathering in her memory. The lawyer indicated they were glad we took that on...no hesitation turning them over. Might also say that the other beneficiary had turned over my cousin's purse and $ from a strong box from her apt. Just after my cousin's passing as she had helped my cousin alot with things over the yrs and knew it should be removed from the assisted living place. She asked for a receipt for the approx. $700 she turned over...felt it just seem so informal otherwise, and the legal asst. indicated she was insulted by responding, after making out the receipt, that they are to be trusted as 'they are lawyers'. My questions are... With such a simple will/situation is this taking an excessively long time, the lawyer who drew up the will is also the executor (he did send each of us a copy) and is there a way we can get an accounting, when /if all is said and done they have depleted everything. Reason we question...is there is not information when either of us call...eg. Probate apparently is over, told to the other beneficiary after several calls about status (she lives in same city).. But never officially told to either of us...but waiting for sale of mutual funds ( both of us know that takes about a day) and tax return. None of this told officially or by the attorney (a well known firm, apparently).. Only allowed can get thru to asst. i have googled to see if I could find any info ( ie state I live in...wills/ probate public and lawyer who draws up will cannot also act as executor ( could be conflict of interest). Maybe we need to be more aggressive...the other beneficiary, a lady in her late 70's, my cousin was 80)...feels they are putting this low priority because we are older. Can see why she could feel that way..but can't imagine. Would appreciate thought on this situation...thanks!
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How long for simple will/estate to settle in Canada?
Old 01-11-2014, 04:12 PM   #2
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How long for simple will/estate to settle in Canada?

Hope you dont mind reading this brief summary.
My Canadian cousin, who lives in British Columbia, died in July of '13. Her beneficiaties were myself and her best friend...divided equally. She was a resident of an assistant living home for approx. 1 yr., had a few pieces of furniture, some mutual funds (we are estimating worth about $200,000 CDN, no debt and had sold her home over a yr. earlier and had put the $ into those mutual funds. Since her passing I went to Canada and was given her ashes (she left no instructions other than cremation) and her friends and I had an informal gathering in her memory. The lawyer indicated they were glad we took that on...no hesitation turning them over. Might also say that the other beneficiary had turned over my cousin's purse and $ from a strong box from her apt. Just after my cousin's passing as she had helped my cousin alot with things over the yrs and knew it should be removed from the assisted living place. She asked for a receipt for the approx. $700 she turned over...felt it just seem so informal otherwise, and the legal asst. indicated she was insulted by responding, after making out the receipt, that they are to be trusted as 'they are lawyers'. My questions are... With such a simple will/situation is this taking an excessively long time, the lawyer who drew up the will is also the executor (he did send each of us a copy) and is there a way we can get an accounting, when /if all is said and done they have depleted everything. Reason we question...is there is not information when either of us call...eg. Probate apparently is over, told to the other beneficiary after several calls about status (she lives in same city).. But never officially told to either of us...but waiting for sale of mutual funds ( both of us know that takes about a day) and tax return. None of this told officially or by the attorney (a well known firm, apparently).. Only allowed can get thru to asst. i have googled to see if I could find any info ( ie state I live in...wills/ probate public and lawyer who draws up will cannot also act as executor ( could be conflict of interest). Maybe we need to be more aggressive...the other beneficiary, a lady in her late 70's, my cousin was 80)...feels they are putting this low priority because we are older. Can see why she could feel that way..but can't imagine. Would appreciate thought on this situation...thanks!
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:31 PM   #3
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I don't know the answer to your specific question, but have you talked with the Law Society of BC?

Complaints | The Law Society of British Columbia

Perhaps the holdup is due to the tax return. Or there might be a claim against the estate of which you are unaware. This occurred with an estate of a relative of mine (in another country) and the winding up of the estate took more than two years.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:49 PM   #4
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Have you contacted the Law Society of BC?

Complaints | The Law Society of British Columbia

I don't know the specific answer to your question, but the time taken to settle an estate can be prolonged if there is property to be sold, if the tax tax return takes a while to process, or if there is a claim on the estate. This was the case with a relative of mine and her estate took over two years to settle (not in Canada).

It is entirely possible that the lawyers are not prioritizing this because they have bigger fish to fry. Lawyers have also been known to inflate their billing. That is why it is beneficial to have a trusted friend or relative as a coexecutor. But I suggest you talk with the Law Society.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:03 PM   #5
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Might also say that the other beneficiary had turned over my cousin's purse and $ from a strong box from her apt. Just after my cousin's passing as she had helped my cousin alot with things over the yrs and knew it should be removed from the assisted living place. She asked for a receipt for the approx. $700 she turned over...felt it just seem so informal otherwise, and the legal asst. indicated she was insulted by responding, after making out the receipt, that they are to be trusted as 'they are lawyers'.
This could be the punch line of a Saturday Night Live skit. I wonder if she was deliberately joking, or is just unbelievably clueless?

I guess she never read Bleak House.
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:21 PM   #6
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I understand why they cannot settle the estate until after all taxes are paid but when FIL died in the UK in June of 2010, with a house to sell, the law firm that handled the estate distributed most of the funds after selling the house, keeping back a chunk of money until after taxes had been filed early the following year (2011) and then distributed the residue.
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:37 PM   #7
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I found some information which may explain why this is taking some time.
The probate or administration application then goes to the court. In some case, the Registrar will deal with the matter without any hearing. In other cases or registries, a hearing may be convened (rare if the application is done properly). The date of probate is important as it is from that date that the 6-month limitation begins to run for common law spouse applications and applications of dependent spouses or children under the Wills Variation Act (see Wills in BC). Because of these time limitations, personal representatives are not allowed to transfer any part of the estate to beneficiaries until the end of the 6-month period (Wills Variation Act).

An executor is allowed one year to collect the assets and settle the estate (called the Executor's Year). There is lots to do. Credit cards have to be cancelled. Mail has to be redirected. Debts have to be paid and collected. Income tax forms have to be completed. A clearance certificate from Revenue Canada is required certifying that all taxes have been paid. If the personal representative starts distribution before receiving the clearance certificate, he (or she) could be personally liable for the unpaid taxes. Tax Steps in an Estate is a must-read!
Managing an Estate in British Columbia: Probate Law 101

Also, see the Wills Variation Act of BC, clause 12

http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/...de/00_96490_01

As always, Google is your friend, even if the law is not.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:17 PM   #8
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What I would do is call the firm and be more assertive as to getting answers as to where the process is and why the funds have not yet been distributed. If it is something as simple as what Meadbh posted above, then they should be explaing this to you.

Tell them if they keep putting you off and not giving you any answers then your only recourse is to file a complaint with the bar and or the court. If they don't give you a decent explanation, then file complaints with both the bar and the court that pricessed the probate.

If there are good reasons why the estate hasn't yet been distributed, you deserve them.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:52 PM   #9
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If there are good reasons why the estate hasn't yet been distributed, you deserve them.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
The most obvious reason is the fact that the deceased passed no more than six months ago, and a waiting period of at least 6 months following probate appears to be a legal requirement.

But I agree with you about squeaky wheels.
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Old 01-11-2014, 08:54 PM   #10
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I don't know the answer to your specific question, but have you talked with the Law Society of BC?

Complaints | The Law Society of British Columbia

Perhaps the holdup is due to the tax return. Or there might be a claim against the estate of which you are unaware. This occurred with an estate of a relative of mine (in another country) and the winding up of the estate took more than two years.
+1

I'm dealing with a similar situation. A relative of mine who lived in Ontario, died 3 years ago. The local lawyer who drew up his will is also the executor.

After more than 2 years of inaction, only after the lawyer was threatened with being reported to the Bar Assoc. did he finally start performing the duties of an executor.

If I understand correctly, executors in Ontario (and it may be similar in BC) get paid a monthly stipend that is specified (not sure by whom...law? the Bar Assoc?)...so it seems that dragging out the process simply puts more money into the executor's pocket.

Also, I wonder if there's any type of "checks and balances" system to keep an eye on executors to ensure that they are performing their duties properly and honestly. Does anyone here know?

omni
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Old 01-11-2014, 09:26 PM   #11
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IANAL, and I have no personal experience with inheritance law in Canada, but I do in Europe. My mother's lawyer was a pleasant old fuddy daddy who was notorious for dragging out the estate process over years. Friends who were lawyers advised me I would need to be proactive. The lawyer and I were coexecutors of my mother's will. I used my project management skills to get probate completed in three weeks, and negotiated significantly lower legal fees.
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Old 01-11-2014, 09:31 PM   #12
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+1

I'm dealing with a similar situation. A relative of mine who lived in Ontario, died 3 years ago. The local lawyer who drew up his will is also the executor.

After more than 2 years of inaction, only after the lawyer was threatened with being reported to the Bar Assoc. did he finally start performing the duties of an executor.

If I understand correctly, executors in Ontario (and it may be similar in BC) get paid a monthly stipend that is specified (not sure by whom...law? the Bar Assoc?)...so it seems that dragging out the process simply puts more money into the executor's pocket.

Also, I wonder if there's any type of "checks and balances" system to keep an eye on executors to ensure that they are performing their duties properly and honestly. Does anyone here know?

omni
Once again, Google is your friend.

Compensation for Executors and Trustees in British Columbia

On a side note....
May I politely suggest that, prior to posing questions of fact, members take the trouble to at least do one little independent search? If I can do this, so can you.
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Old 01-11-2014, 09:37 PM   #13
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The most obvious reason is the fact that the deceased passed no more than six months ago, and a waiting period of at least 6 months following probate appears to be a legal requirement.

But I agree with you about squeaky wheels.
+1

Yesterday DW got an email from the law firm that is executing the will and estate of an Uncle of hers who was buried on Monday. She received a copy of the will as she is a beneficiary, and the letter states that it will take at least 9 months to complete probate and make distributions.

These things do take time but there is no reason why the firm shouldn't be forth coming with information when you make inquiries.
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Old 01-11-2014, 11:09 PM   #14
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The most obvious reason is the fact that the deceased passed no more than six months ago, and a waiting period of at least 6 months following probate appears to be a legal requirement.

But I agree with you about squeaky wheels.
I understand, but I would expect that the law firm would explain that to the OP rather than ignore/stonewall the OP's inquiries.

A two minute explanation would make all the difference.
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Old 01-14-2014, 03:08 PM   #15
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Thank you everyone for your comments and information. Don't know why...but when I googled I didn't get any good links...maybe didn't ask right question...so thank you. Agree too that some of our conversations with that law firm have been a bit strange...that one about the lawyer's admin. asst. was priceless..understand she kept a straight face.maybe they don't get SNL up there! Found out in the meantime that the firm advertises itself as specialists in real estate..which is how I believe my cousin first used them...but I understand a lot of the elderly use them also for estate purposes...easier to just do that I guess since they already have a relationship. With this situation being so simple...1 credit card to cancel, no real estate, personal items disposed of, 2 mutual funds to sell, probate done, tax return unknown at this time..but simple...its looking like we are low on their priority list, or they are milking this since there is no spouse involved and there is no set fee - easy $ for them....so will follow up after consulting with my co-beneficiary and thoroughly reading the material on the related websites. Thank you all for taking your time to contribute!
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Old 01-14-2014, 03:19 PM   #16
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My son makes a fine living keeping the estate lawyers and the executors honest. His firm specializes in estates, and it's remarkable some of the things people will do with other folk's money.
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Old 01-15-2014, 01:47 PM   #17
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It seems that the law firm is the executor. You should find what is the minimum executor fee and offer that as compensation for getting this thing wrapped up quickly.

I have a really good lawyer in Toronto who did my Dad's and my brother's estates. The BC lawyer who did MIL was also pretty good.

But I believe it is lack of focus and a desire to keep the file open for billing that is working against you.
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