Dealing with estate matters can be very complicated and emotional. Coming to grips with the passing of a loved one and being the person responsible for the administration of the deceased person’s estate is no easy feat.  Fortunately, estate trustees can consult estate lawyers to help guide their decisions and duties under the will.

When it comes to administering the estate of the deceased, one of the first important steps is to apply for a certificate of appointment of estate trustee. The purpose of filing this application is so that, any one who is entitled to benefit under the will recognize that individuals named under the will as estate trustee’s have the right to deal with the assets in the estate immediately upon death.

From the outset of the administration of the estate, the lawyer should advise the trustee of his or her responsibilities to determine, secure and protect the assets.  The lawyer must advise the estate trustee to communicate with persons mentioned in the will or the heirs on intestacy about the possible benefits they are to receive.

Where a person intends to apply for a certificate of appointment of estate trustee, he or she must file with the court an affidavit confirming that all persons entitled to share in the estate distribution have been served with a notice that an application for a certificate of appointment of estate trustee is being made.

Any cash, securities, other valuable papers, jewelry, property deeds, mortgages, insurance policies and other title papers and documents should be taken from the deceased’s place of business or residence and placed in the custody of the estate trustee. The estate trustee should determine cash on deposit at banks, trust companies, investment firms, credit unions and other depositories.  The proper procedure is for an estate trustee to write to each of these institutions requesting full particulars.

Information as to any insurance policies on the life of the deceased should be obtained and particulars recorded. The estate trustee is responsible only for proceeds of insurance on the life of the deceased that are payable to the estate.  Policy proceeds payable to a named beneficiary are often dealt with directly by the beneficiary, since the proceeds do not form part of the estate.  Similarly, RRSP, RRIF and TFSA’s may be asset of the estate or may pass outside of the estate to a named beneficiary. 

An important recent change that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice issues a certificate, the estate administration tax must be paid when the application is first filed. Presently, the tax is calculated at the rate of $5 per $1000 for the first $50,000.00 of estate value, and $15 per $1000 for estate value over $50,000.

Another important point to highlight is that estate trustees are entitled to compensation, whether or not it is stipulated in the Will.  Compensation is often in the range of 2 ½ % of original assets, 2 ½ % of capital distributed and up to 5% of the estate income.

If you or someone you know is an estate trustee or would like a lawyer’s opinion and advice on estate matters please contact Kesarwani Law Office today. We are experienced estate lawyers and have served families for over 15 years in administering estates.

Please contact Jasdeep Dhillon at 647-349-8300 or

Please do not construe this post as legal advice and contact a lawyer regarding estate matters.