Losing a loved one is challenging but after the testator passes, there are several important services to consider. We know that losing your loved ones is extremely painful and coping with the aftermath can be stressful but to ensure that the testator’s family doesn’t face any problems afterward, considering professional help and services is crucial.
When someone dear to you dies and leaves an estate, it is critical to understand the services available to you to help you manage the legal and financial sides of settling your affairs. In this blog, we are going to explore everything you need to know about the services to consider after the testator passes. But before that let’s look at some basics.
Who is Testator?
A testator is a legal word for someone who writes a will. In the past, you might have come across the term “Testatrix,” which was typically used to denote a female person who produced a Will.
However, this is an outdated phrase, and the term Testator is currently used to refer to both males and girls. Although the term “Testator” is not commonly used in everyday discourse, it is frequently used in estate planning agreements, regulations, and legislation.
The requirements for somebody who can be deemed a Testator vary per state. The Testator, regardless of locale, is the one who established his or her own will.
Each state, however, has its own set of restrictions about who is qualified to make their own will. To qualify, a person must be at least 18 years old. Aside from that, the Testator must be of “sound mind.”
Most individuals have a rough understanding of what it means to be of “sound mind” or “mentally competent,” but they may struggle to express it. However, there is a specific legal description of what it entails for the purposes of having a valid will.
To be of sound mind or mentally competent to form a will, you must know three precise facts at the moment you sign your name on the will:
- Your residence
- Natural objects of your bounty
- Your bequest’s nature
Services to Consider After the Testator Passes:
The most common practice is to choose an executor of your while from your family since you trust them and you have faith that they will do exactly what is said in the will. But one thing we all forget is that they will need assistance and without that, there are many things that can go wrong.
It is always a great idea take help from a professional executor who is experienced and knows exactly what is needed to be done while following your will. Following are some services after the testator passes to consider that will help you and your executor for a smooth process:
After the Death:
Following the death of the testator, the first step is to get a copy of their Will and discuss it with the Executor or Executrix. This will assist in determining their desires and providing suggestions on how to continue with estate administration and distribution.
Furthermore, the death must be reported to the proper authorities, and any organ donation or repatriation preparations must be undertaken. Checking on any livestock or pets that may need attention, as well as safeguarding the property, are all critical duties to consider at this time.
The Will should be read for specific funeral instructions, and assistance with funeral preparations should be offered if necessary.
Initial Administrative Steps:
Following the testator’s death, a number of administrative procedures must be followed. These include forwarding mail, acquiring multiple original copies of the death certificate, and ensuring the family’s urgent financial requirements are satisfied.
Additionally, any vacant property must be insured, and any marriage contracts, family law concerns, or dependent relief issues should be evaluated. if required, a probate of the will application must be produced, and probate taxes should be paid as decided.
Getting the certificate of appointment of the estate trustee and transferring property into the name of the estate are equally important duties. lastly, the estate information report must be sent to the Ministry of Finance.
Protecting All of the Assets:
Another important service to take into account after the testator’s death is the protection of the estate’s assets. All utilities and taxes related to property should be paid on time, and insurance plans should be examined to guarantee appropriate coverage.
Banks and other financial organizations where the dead had accounts or owed money must be notified, and any credit card accounts ought to be canceled, returned, or destroyed. Death and card cancellations should also be reported to Equifax and TransUnion. To deposit cash receipts, pay costs, and aggregate all other account balances, an estate bank account must be formed.
Communicating with Beneficiaries:
Following the death of the testator, it is critical to interact directly with beneficiaries, collect information, and define expectations. It is also critical to provide entitled beneficiaries with regular, timely updates and a copy of the property summary form. Additionally, charities and leftover beneficiaries should be notified of the distribution procedure.
Following the initial administrative formalities and asset protection, it’s time to value and register estate assets as of the date of death. This involves establishing the worth of real estate, enterprises, or other assets, as well as identifying any obligations owed by the person who passed away and owed to the deceased.
It is also critical to apply for and collect the CPP Death Benefit, contact the deceased’s employers or former employer about any unpaid wages, employee benefits, pension plans, and funeral expenses, and apply for and collect personally owned or collective life insurance and other insurance benefits. In Ontario, the Estate Info Return must be filed within 90 days following notification of appointment as executor.
Estate administration is a continuous activity that necessitates close attention to detail. Investment appropriateness should be examined and altered as needed, and assets should be sold to satisfy cash requirements if necessary.
Tax consequences, applicable fees, and the timing of disposal should all be considered. Until the estate is finalized, cash should be put into acceptable investments, and any trusts stated in the will should be formed. Furthermore, CPP, OAS, and GIS payments should be canceled within 30 days, and any extra payments should be repaid.
CPP survivors’ pensions and/or children’s benefits, as well as the Allowance for the Survivor, should be sought, and the CRA should be urged to terminate GST/HST credit and child tax advantages.
Handling tax obligations is a key phase in the administration of an estate. As an executor, you may be needed to file numerous tax filings, both income tax returns for the dead and the estate itself.
In rare situations, it may be essential to retain an accounting firm with the expertise to guarantee that all mandatory and voluntary returns are submitted correctly.
You will also need to pay any needed income taxes and acquire a tax clearance certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) after all tax obligations have been addressed.
Once all obligations and claims have been satisfied, it is time to divide the estate’s assets among the beneficiaries. This may be a complicated and time-consuming procedure, and it is critical to verify that all legal criteria are satisfied. You must commence the sale of assets and the transfer of property titles, as well as notify the remaining owners of property kept in joint tenancy to amend records at the Land Registry Office. You will also need to file paperwork and prepare for the transfer of employment, health, pension, and retiree benefits.
You will also need to advertise for unsecured creditors, pay all bills and settle any valid claims before the final distribution of assets, and acquire documented receipts for all payments.
After all initial distributions to beneficiaries have been made, you must create final distribution schedules for the executor’s approval, distribute final distributions to recipients and secure releases, distribute specific bequests and secure receipts from all beneficiaries, and create an account of all expenses, including any compensation paid for executor duties.
Organize the final distribution of any remaining assets, secure the necessary signed receipts, create an estate accounting and statement of estate account, and make sure that all adult beneficiaries have approved the accounting and have signed a release form.
The ultimate stage in estate administration is to close it. This includes compiling a final accounting of all liabilities and assets, income and costs, and asset distribution, as well as having all adult beneficiaries sign a release form and approve the accounting.
When the estate is entirely resolved, you should notify the bank (in writing) that the estate account should be closed. Beneficiaries may also be advised to get expert counsel from a financial advisor when they have received more assets than they have previously had to manage since they could become targets for unethical predators or unwise endeavors.
Having professional services after the testator passes is crucial to consider in order to manage the administrative, financial, emotional, and legal issues of settling the estate. These services can give vital direction, assistance, and expertise to ensure that the testator’s intentions are carried out appropriately and that family members can manage the aftermath of loss with care and thoughtfulness.
Seeking assistance from these services can help ease the load and complications connected with estate administration, enabling the family to focus on their mental well-being and healing during this difficult time.
Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased individual, including the distribution of assets to beneficiaries and the resolution of any outstanding debts or claims. It entails confirming the deceased’s will, identifying their assets and obligations, and ensuring that their estate is distributed in accordance with the law.
An estate planning attorney is a legal expert that specializes in the creation and management of legal papers that assist individuals in arranging for the disposition of their assets after death. They can help with the creation of wills, trusts, and other legal papers to ensure that the client’s desires are carried out.
If the testator does not leave a will, their possessions will be dispersed in accordance with state intestacy rules. This implies that the court will appoint an administrator to handle the estate and distribute assets to the testator’s heirs, which may or may not be in accordance with the testator’s desires.
Meet Doug, a seasoned financial planner with over 35 years of experience in providing trusted advice and planning for retirement, estates, income tax, and investments. As a Chartered Accountant (CPA CA), Certified Estate Advisor (CEA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), and Elder Planning Counsellor (EPC), Doug has the expertise and knowledge to guide and support executors through the estate processing journey.