Where a deceased person has not left a Will an intestacy occurs. The question then arises as to who is entitled to step in and administer the estate. Often, competing interests will occur. The Estates Act sets out the procedure for both testate and intestate applications, including who has priority to apply to administer on an intestacy and Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act (the SLRA) identifies the classes of persons who may share in the distribution of the estate in these circumstances (see Disagreements Where There Is No Will). . Of course, before any steps are taken to apply to administer an estate without a Will, it is necessary for the applicant to ensure that be satisfied that there is in fact no Will. This can be done by making the appropriate inquiries of families and friends, contacting lawyers who are known to the deceased, database searches or placing inquiry advertisements in the local newspaper(s).
Typically a Court Application will be required to have the authority to administer an intestate estate. In Ontario, only an Ontario resident can do so without having to post security. Applicants who have a financial interest such as a claim against the Estate may be conflicted and disqualified from administering the Estate, but this will depend upon the circumstances.
Resolving competing claims in these circumstances can be complicated. Many different and often competing rights of potential beneficiaries are at stake and the best advice is to retain professional assistance as early as possible. Our lawyers are experienced in these matters, having assisted Estate Trustees and Beneficiaries alike. If an out of court solution is available, we have the experience to find it. If litigation is required, we have the team to provide efficient and cost conscious representation.