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Administrator of an Estate: Definition

An administrator of estate is someone who is appointed by the court. An administrator may be appointed when a deceased person has a will but does not appoint an executor in the will. An administrator for an estate may also be appointed if the appointed executor refuses to carry out the executor’s duties, cannot carry out the duties, or has died.

In these cases, the court issues a grant to the administrator called a Grant of Administration with Will Annexed.

(Note: the term “personal representative” is the current legal term used to refer to an executor/executrix, administrator/administratix, and judicial trustee.)

Administrator of Estate Without a Will

If the deceased does not leave a will, the court can appoint an administrator of estate. This is done by issuing a Grant of Administration. In Alberta, this grant cannot be given to more than three people at once, except by court order. Priority is usually given to Alberta residents, except in the cases of spouses and adult interdependent partners.

Priority, according to the Surrogate Rules, is to the family of the deceased in the following order:

  • The surviving spouse or adult independent partner of the deceased.
  • The children of the deceased, when there is no surviving spouse or adult independent partner, or if they are unwilling or unable to act.
  • The grandchildren of the deceased, when there are no children, or if the children are unwilling or unable to act.
  • Other lineal (blood) descendants of the deceased.
  • Parents of the deceased.
  • Siblings of the deceased.
  • Other persons related to the deceased.

A person entitled to a Grant of Administration may nominate someone else to be the administrator.

When there is more than one family member eligible to apply to be the administrator, the family should decide who will apply and who will renounce their appointment.

Administrator of Estate Duties

The administrator of an estate has the same duties as an executor. The difference is that the administrator cannot start acting on behalf of the deceased person’s estate until the court issues a Grant of Administration. An executor, on the other hand, can begin acting immediately after the person dies because he or she is named in the will.

Typically, an administrator has the same powers as an executor. That means that either can act as if they were in the shoes of the deceased person, with all the same powers as the deceased when it comes to managing the deceased’s property.

Like an executor, the administrator has a fiduciary duty to the estate and its beneficiaries. Administrators must act in the best interests of the estate and the beneficiaries, putting their own interests aside. The administrator may also be held personally liable if he or she does anything that causes the estate to lose value, even if he or she did not intend for the estate to lose value or did not know about potential personal liability issues.

Grant of Administration Fees

The fees for a Grant of Administration are the same as the fees for a Grant of Probate. See Probate Fees in Alberta.

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