Settling the Estate

Important things to consider:

  • Power-of-attorney becomes null and void after a death occurs.
  • A will is the document containing a set of instructions that become effective upon the death of the person who made the will. The will dictates how the possessions of the deceased are to be divided, and authorizes a chosen person (executor if a male, or executrix if a female) to collect assets, pay debts and distribute the property. When choosing an executor/trix, it's a good idea to name an alternate so there will be somebody immediately available if the chosen executor/executrix is unable or unwilling to take responsibility.
  • The executor/executrix is allowed to remove the will, funeral information and marriage licence immediately from a safety deposit box. It will then be sealed for 14 days before release.
  • If there is no will, contact the Ministry of Attorney General for information on how to proceed.
  • Not all wills need to be probated (the process by which property of a decedent is retitled); joint property and accounts are generally exempt. Check with the Court Registry for specific information.
  • Unless a property deed states "joint ownership", property ownership is considered to be "tenants-in-common". To transfer a house or land owned "tenants-in-common" requires:
  1. A Certified copy of Letters Probate
  2. A statement of assets of estate issued by the Court Registry
  3. A fee plus percentage of the market value
  • To transfer property owned "jointly" requires:
  1. The deed or legal description of the property
  2. A death certificate
  • Copies of the death certificate are required for most legal transactions. The number you will need will depend on the complexity of the estate.  For example, if the deceased had multiple investments and holding with different institutions, you will need more copies. A Funeral Home or the BC Vital Statistics Agency can provide these.
  • Pension cheques issued in the month of the death do not have to be returned.
  • Insurance benefits are paid directly to the beneficiary.
  • Canada Pension Survivor benefits must be applied for in person. Application requires:
  1. Birth certificate(s) of deceased, spouse and dependent children
  2. Marriage licence
  3. Death certificate
  4. Social insurance cards of deceased and spouse
  5. Relevant application forms
  • Many airlines have a compassionate travel policy. Check on this prior to booking any flights.

Quality end-of-life care for all: Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for those facing advancing illness, death and bereavement through skilled and compassionate care, education, research and advocacy.