Settling a Family Member’s Estate

When a Family Member Dies…..

  1. Notify the Department of AANDC – they will ask basic information such as the deceased’s name and date of death, Indian Registration Number and First Nation.
  2. Determine if there is a will – this may include looking through the deceased’s records or asking the band office, family members, local banks or lawyers to search for a will.
  3. If there is a will the Minister must approve it – The Minister of AANDC must approve the will. If there is no will or the Minister cannot approve the will or the will has been challenged and declared void then the estate will be distributed according to the Indian Act.
  4. The Minister appoints an administrator or executor – a will usually names an executor and that person is appointed by the Minister. If there is no will, then we refer to the Indian Act to determine who the heirs are and try to find an heir who wants to administer the estate.

 

Will – the legal statement concerning the disposition of one’s property after death; the document containing such wishes.

Estates – All of the assets you own when you die, including land, bank accounts, personal property, after all of your debts are paid (funeral, hydro, etc.)

Administrator – person appointed by the Minister to administer the estate (someone who handles all the legal and financial matters of the deceased’s estate). If there is no will or no one is stated in the will the Minister will appoint someone. It is not possible to have more than one appointed administrator.

Executor – person named in the will to administer (handle all the legal and financial matters) the deceased’s estate and to ensure that the details of the will are carried out. This is the same as an administrator or a personal representative. It is possible to have more than one executor named in a will.

Heir – Person(s) who may inherit from the estate of someone who died without a will (e.g., spouse, children, parents and other relatives).

Beneficiary – Persons (e.g., child, cousin, or friend) or organizations (e.g., church or animal shelter) specifically named in the will to inherit from the estate.

Intestate – the condition of having died without leaving a valid will

Succession – Entitlement to the deceased’s property by kinship

Escheat – the reversion of property to the Crown where no one is competent or available to inherit the property.