ESTATE ASSETS – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW AND WHEN
When beneficiaries of an estate come to see me, they often are not aware of the extent of the estate assets.
A Will does not usually have the details of the assets in it. There is a good reason for that. If you list the assets in the will, the will has to be changed when assets are acquired or disposed of.
If the executor applies for probate (that is the court process to validate the will) the probate application usually contains the total value of the estate, but it is not broken down by asset. It is only broken down by real estate assets and assets other than real estate.
In due course the executor is required to provide an accounting to the beneficiaries of the estate. If that is done the way it is supposed to be, it will list all of the assets and liabilities of the estate.
Any assets that were owned jointly with another person will usually pass to that person and are not affected by the will. For example a bank account in the name of a parent and child will go to the child when the mother passes away.
In some cases the parent intended the child to have the account on the death of the parent
In many cases, the parent does not expect the child to keep the money. Rather the account is held jointly to provide money to cover the funeral or to avoid probate tax and the intention is that the money is really part of the estate.
Families often fight over whether or not the jointly held investment is to be included in the value of the estate. In that case it becomes necessary to figure out what the intention of the deceased was.
As you can imagine, it may not always be easy to figure out what the intention was.
That is the same for life insurance and registered investments (like life insurance and rrsp or rrif investments). These will pass to the designated beneficiary. Usually it is intended that these investments actually pass to the designated beneficiary, but that may not always be the intention of the deceased.
Feel free to contact us at any point for assistance or advice with respect to Estate Law, Estate Planning or Estate Administration or Estate Litigation. We may be reached at 705-435-4339 / 1-877-85LEGAL (1-877-855-3425) or contact us via email.