Upon the death of an individual, the Will dictates how matters proceed with respect to the Testator’s affairs. If there is no Will, the Wills and Succession Act dictates how the affairs will be wound up. The person who will manage the estate is called the Personal Representative (or Executor if there is a Will, and Administrator if there is no Will). The Personal Representative is given the power to deal with the estate assets by the Court. The Court has supervisory power over the Personal Representative and the Personal Representative must file certain documents with the Court showing the estate assets and how they have been distributed. If the Court is satisfied with the administration of the estate, the Personal Representative will be discharged by the Court. If a beneficiary or other interested party has any questions about the administration of the estate assets, they can apply to the Court to have the Personal Representative explain in Court what happened.
If there are trusts set up in the Will, the Personal Representative may have to manage these trusts for a number of years. The rules regarding how the trust funds are to be managed will be set out in the Will. If there are trusts for very young children involved, the Personal Representative may have to manage the trust until the child reaches the age of 18 years. Often, there will be a provision in the Will that a Personal Representative can transfer the administration of the trust to a Trust Company or another individual who may be in a better position to manage the trust fund for an extended period of time.