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Estate Litigation Glossary

estate litigation

Estate Litigation Glossary

Are you or is someone you know involved in an estate dispute or probate matter? If so, it’s important to be aware of the specific terms used. Read on for definitions of some of the more common terms used in estate litigation, courtesy of estate lawyers in Ottawa:

Administrator – A person who is appointed by the court to administer the estate of the deceased person. They are charged with dealing with the assets and debts of the deceased person who died without a will (intestate, see below).

Assets – Items of economic value, which can range from clothing, books, and jewellery to real estate, investments, RRSPs, and cash.

Beneficiary – A person who will receive designated assets based on the terms of the will after the death of the testator. There can be multiple beneficiaries.

Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee – Formerly letters probate, this is a certificate given by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice which proves that the executor is authorized to distribute assets as instructed by the valid will of the deceased.

Estate – Combination of all assets and debts (liabilities) left by a deceased person.

Estate Administration Tax – Formerly called a probate fee, this is part of the requirement for obtaining a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee. In Ontario, these fees are $250 for the first $50,000 of an estate and $15 per $1,000 thereafter.

Estate Representative – See executor.

Executor – A person chosen by a testator to carry out a will as instructed. Also known as a personal representative or estate representative.

Fiduciary – A person appointed and authorized with a legal duty to hold and manage assets for the benefits of another person. This person is held to a high standard of trust and confidence.

Fiduciary Duty – The obligation to act for the benefit of another person. The law prohibits the fiduciary from acting any way that contradicts the interests of the other person. Should this happen, it is known as breach of fiduciary duty.

Grantor – A person who creates and owns a trust. Also known as a trustor.

Intestate – Describes a person who dies without a valid will and without instructions for distributing assets once deceased.

Personal Representative – See executor.

Probate – A court procedure which certifies that a will is valid and gives the executor authority to execute the will and for assets to be transferred to beneficiaries. If there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator and supervise the transfer of property. The certificate which grants this authority is called the Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee.

Testate – Describes a deceased person who has made a valid will.

Testator – A person who makes a valid will.

Trust –  An entity managed by a trustee for the benefit of a beneficiary. The terms of this management are determined by the grantor who established the trust.

Trustee – The person who manages a trust on behalf of the trustor for the benefit of the beneficiary.

Trustor – See grantor.

Will – A legal document which guides the distribution of a person’s property and assets upon their death.

Will Contest – An objection to the validity of the will, because the will is invalid or does not represent the true intent of the testator.

For more information about estate litigation and to schedule a free consultation, contact Mullowney’s team of dedicated estate lawyers in Ottawa.

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