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Settling an Estate in British Columbia: Town Hall Edition (Recorded Webinar)

Recorded on: 
November 17, 2020
60 minutes

Summary: How much can the executor charge? Why won’t the bank give me access to mom’s old account? Is probate necessary where the deceased left no property and there’s not enough money to pay bank loans owed? Return speakers Nicole Garton and Stacie Ayukawa from Heritage Law answer these questions and others about dealing with an estate.


In this webinar, you will learn about the executor’s role:

  • Whether an executor appointed in a will has a choice about taking on the role, what they should be careful not to do if they don’t want to take on the role, and what happens if an alternative executor declines to act. [3:00]
  • Whether the executor of an estate that doesn’t require probate can still receive an executor’s fee. [5:55]
  • How long probate usually takes and when an expedited process may be available. [9:45]
  • What happens when an alternate executor refuses to act. [16:25]

You will learn how to deal with the property — and debts:

  • What documents an executor needs to give the bank to access a deceased’s bank account. [17:30]
  • How to deal with an insolvent estate, including getting access to a deceased’s bank account when there is no will, factors to consider before taking any steps as an executor, and why you may want to seek legal advice. [19:30]
  • What happens when unsuspected debt comes up after an estate has been settled, three categories of risk to consider, potential personal liability as an executor, and steps an executor can take to mitigate against risk. [24:45]
  • What is defined as estate assets at the time of death and whether they include proceeds from a life insurance policy paid after death. [27:25]

You will learn about the paperwork:

  • Whether probate is required for an insolvent estate. [28:35]
  • What step to take next where probate wasn’t required and the income tax returns have been filed. [29:45]
  • How much information about the estate’s assets and liabilities an executor must give to the beneficiaries. [30:40]
  • What a certificate of clearance is, why it’s important to obtain before distributing estate assets, and what you do with it. [33:00]
  • Whether an executor needs to engage a lawyer to distribute the estate assets after they have completed probate and received a certificate of clearance. [34:40]
  • What to do if a beneficiary refuses to sign the final release. [36:50]
  • Options to consider if you’re named as executor with your siblings and you think you’ll need to fund the estate. [39:40]

You will learn about the rights of others, including those left out of the will:

  • How to obtain a copy of the will and make sure its directives are followed. [41:30]
  • What steps children can take if they are left out of a parent’s will. [44:15]
  • What to do if you think a will-maker with early dementia may want to change the appointed executor of their will. [46:20]
  • What low cost or free resources are available to a beneficiary with concerns about whether an executor is following their duties as executor. [48:25]
  • What you can do if you question whether an executor is paying themself an appropriate fee. [49:50]
  • Whether a bank account held jointly with a deceased will be frozen at the time of their death. [50:50]
  • Whether a burial expense is recorded as a liability of the estate in a probate application. [51:20]
  • What to do if there’s an unexpected payment made to the estate after it has been settled. [52:00]

Attendee feedback

“This was a great two-step format — the first session with more direct information, and the second session a 'town hall'. Thanks!”

"Thank you Nicole, Stacie & Paula (& those behind the scenes) — appreciate the information and your time. Always interesting to hear others' questions."

"These webinars have been very helpful and informative. I found out information that I was not previously aware of, when I was named as an executor of my mother's estate, along with my two surviving brothers."

“I would adore more webinars, especially ones I can re-watch later for retention due to memory troubles. As a new advocate I find these webinars extremely useful.”

“Keep up the great work. The info you share is so informative and presented in a very clear way I believe is understandable to people with a range of knowledge coming 'into' the webinars.”

“To People's Law School and presenters: thanks for what you do, I am sure you are helping many people.”

Additional resources

From Heritage Law:

From People’s Law School:

Forms & laws: