When a court action regarding a Will or an estate is commenced, it can often cause delays in the administration of an estate. This can be bad news for the overall value of an estate – expenses to maintain assets continue to accumulate, debts may not get paid, and, if the deceased owned a home, it may be impossible to take advantage of a strong real estate market to maximize the home’s value. This state of limbo can be incredibly frustrating for anyone with an interest in the estate.
Section 103 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act allows the court to appoint someone to administer the estate while the legal proceeding is ongoing. The administrator will typically be a neutral, objective person that does not have an interest in the estate, or someone that all the parties to the litigation agree is an appropriate choice. When an administrator pending legal proceedings is appointed by the court, they will have all the rights, powers and duties of a regular personal representative (executor of an estate), but they will not be able to distribute the estate. The court may set out other restrictions on the administration, depending on the circumstances.
Here are some examples of tasks that the administrator pending legal proceedings is able to undertake:
• Pay ongoing estate expenses and debts if there are funds available,
• Sell estate assets, such as real estate, businesses and vehicles,
• Collect money owed to the estate, and
• File estate income tax returns to avoid penalties and interest.
Having an administrator managing the estate while the legal proceeding is ongoing can mean that once the litigation is over, wrapping up the estate can be done more quickly and efficiently. The administrator pending legal proceedings is eligible to be compensated for their services based either on the limits set out in the Trustee Act, or as determined by the court. The cost, however, can be worth it in many cases.