What Is an Estate?
An estate consists of all the owned property/assets (movable and immovable) that a person leaves behind when they pass away after all liabilities (debt and taxes, etc.) are paid up.
Any estate is defined as a gross estate before any assets and liabilities are weighed in the balance. The gross estate is the measure used to calculate how much tax will be owed to the government. This means that tax is calculated based on the total fair market value of the assets.
How Does a Person Know Whether They Have an Estate or Not?
In Canada, all people have an estate in one way or another—it does not rely on the person having a will or testament. No matter the circumstances, all persons that have passed away will be legally processed and this includes establishing what happens to a person’s assets/property if any.
This process must be followed to ensure that all debts are paid with available assets and that any remains thereof are distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries. Inheritance law is governed by legislation like the Wills, Estates, and Succession Act (also referred to as WESA) that stipulates the due process in detail.
Who Will Handle the Estate?
The executor of an estate will be the person who is given full power of attorney to ensure that the estate is managed on your behalf, according to your will (if you have one) and the laws that govern it. They will normally do things like:
- Pay outstanding bills
- Look after your pets
- Manage your banking
- Manage your mail
- Submit your last tax return
- Distribute your assets to the legal beneficiaries
The Elephas Group offers a special program called the Final Needs Planning Program that ensures that a person’s estate is properly planned and is compliant. We will appoint a personal account executive that helps explain everything including managing the processing of all estate-related matters after you die.
What Is a Probate Estate and Why Does It Matter?
In Canada, a Probate Estate is the legal process whereby the probate court is sanctioned to validate a person’s will (testament) and then appoints an executor (also referred to as a personal representative).
If a deceased person didn’t leave a will, the probate court defines this as a person dying intestate. It will consequently move the court to rely on the provincial laws of intestate succession to establish who inherits and how the estate needs to be processed.
If a person dies intestate, it does not necessarily mean that the government will claim all assets, but rather, that the processing and distribution thereof will be determined by the government in line with the intestate laws.
Some people also opt for their estate to be set up in a trust whereby it acts as a legal entity that owns a part or the entire sum of your assets. There are various types of trusts (for example the revocable living trust) available and it also bypasses the probate process. It all depends on the needs of the individual.
Why It Is Important to Start Planning
For most people, estate planning is a daunting task. This is why it is important to partner with the right providers like the Elephas Group, where expert guidance and carefully structured plans make provisions for everything that needs to happen when you pass away.
Our services include the setting up of a living estate, choosing the right burial insurance cover, and even helping you get all your administration set up with our final document service. This ensures that the executor/personal representative and/or lawyer will be able to effectively process your estate seamlessly and exactly according to your wishes.