One of the key tasks of an estate trustee is to ascertain and locate all beneficiaries who may have an interest in the estate. The names of the beneficiaries are set out in a person’s will, so it is usually straightforward matter.

Their can be complications, however, when the will is not specific enough. For instance, if a will states that a certain asset be left to “any children of mine”, then it will be up to the estate trustee to ascertain who these individuals may be. Likewise, if a person dies without a will (known as dying intestate), it means the trustee will need to identify all the relatives who are eligible for a part of the estate, in accordance with provincial laws. There can also be issues if the estate trustee cannot find a beneficiary – there is often some research involved to ensure a reasonable effort is made.

The estate trustee is also responsible for making a list of all of the assets of the deceased at the time of their death. There is often a great deal of work involved in compiling this list, and it involves contacting financial institutions and locating records relating to property and investments. The next step is to distribute these assets in accordance with the instructions in the deceased’s will.

Our Estate Law Group can assist estate trustees in locating beneficiaries and distributing assets.