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You are here: Home > Personal > Goals and life events > Family > Settling an estate > Glossary

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Glossary

A

Acceptance or renunciation

The beneficiaries’ option to either accept or refuse an estate.

Attestation of Death

Document issued by a funeral home director confirming the death of the testator. It is often used instead of a death certificate or copy of a statement of death.

Attested will

Document written by the testator, a third party or technical means (e.g. word processing) and signed by the testator in the presence of 2 witnesses of legal age who are not named as beneficiaries, and to whom the testator declares that the document is his will. This form of will, originating from the common law, is the most common will in Ontario.

B

Beneficiary

A person who is entitled to an inheritance.

C

Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee

Document that gives the executor and estate trustee or personal representative legal proof that they are in possession of the testator’s last will and testament.

Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee without a Will

Document that confirms that the person named therein has the right to act as trustee for the estate of a person who died intestate, or without a will.

Clearance certificate (up until the date of death)

Document issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) declaring that all income tax amounts due by the deceased, up until the date of death, have been paid.

Clearance certificate (up until the date of distribution)

Document issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) declaring that all income tax amounts due by the estate for income earned from the date of death up to the date of distribution, have been paid.

Codicil

An act subsequent to a will that complements, amends or revokes it.

Cohabitation

Under section 57 of the Succession Law Reform Act and section 1 of the Family Law Act, cohabitation means living together in a conjugal relationship within or outside of marriage.

Laws cited:

  • Family Law Act, RSO 1990, c F.3
  • Succession Law Reform Act, RSO 1990, c S.26

D

Death certificate

Document issued by the Registrar General certifying a person is deceased. The certificate may be necessary to prove a testator’s death to terminate programs such as health insurance, auto insurance, pensions and welfare, and to determine the date of benefit payments to the surviving spouse.

Discharge of the personal representative

Formal release of the personal representative's obligations following the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

E

Estate settlement

Process which consists of identifying, recovering and selling estate assets, determining the contents of the estate, collecting debts owed the estate, paying estate debts and expenses, support payments and debts related to equalization of family property, specific and residual bequests to beneficiaries, and passing accounts of the administration prior to the distribution of specific bequests.

H

Holographic will

Document entirely handwritten, signed and date by the testator (see sections 6 and 7 of the Succession Law Reform Act).

I

International will

Document derived from an international convention adopted by many Canadian provinces including Ontario. It must be written by the testator, a third party or technical means and signed by the testator. It is signed by the testator in the presence of 2 witnesses of legal age and a person authorized by the convention to testify that the document is the testator’s will and that they know its contents. An international will is valid regardless of where it is drawn up, the geographical location of the property, or the nationality, domicile or residence of the testator. It is important for testators with assets in different countries (refer to section 42 of the Succession Law Reform Act).

Intestate succession

Also known as a succession on intestacy or a statutory will. Transfer of assets in the absence of a will or testament. Distribution of property is determined by the Succession Law Reform Act.

Inventory or valuation

Itemized list containing a description and valuation of an estate's assets and liabilities.

L

Legatee

Term used to refer to a person who is entitled to an inheritance. The term beneficiary is more commonly used.

Legatee by particular title

Person who receives, through a will, specific property without being liable for debts secured on the property. Legatees are not liable for any obligations of the deceased in the property, unless the other assets of the estate are not sufficient to pay the debts. In which case, they are only liable up to the value of the property received.

Local municipal clerk’s office

Local authority that legally record deaths and issues related documentation. The local municipal clerk’s office may issue death certificates for deaths that were recorded in their office.

M

Medical Certificate of Death

Document prepared by a physician attesting to the death. Sometimes referred to as a death certificate.

N

Notice of distribution of assets

Under Section 53 of the Trustee Act, the personal representative must inform creditors of the intention to distribute estate assets. Common practice is to publish a notice in a local newspaper 90 days prior to the distribution of assets. This way the personal representative cannot be held personally liable by any creditor who did not make a formal claim before estate assets were distributed.

Law cited:

  • Trustee Act, RSO 1990, c T.23

P

Passing accounts

The process by which the personal representative submits a complete accounting of the estate administration to the beneficiaries.

Personal Property Security Act (PPSA)

Act which creates a computerized registration system allowing the public to search for interests they may have in personal property or persons. An interest duly registered under the PPSA is considered to be known by all third parties. The register is used to record debts and obligations.

Personal representative

Person designated by the testator, the heirs or the court to administer an estate. Also referred to as executor or administrator in the Succession Law Reform Act, Trustee Act, and Estates Administration Act. Also referred to as a personal representative, executor and administrator in the Rules of Civil Procedure. Commonly called executor and/or estate trustee in wills.

Privileged will

Very basic document written by members of the military while on active service and signed by them or by another person in their presence and in accordance with their instructions, which dispenses of all other formalities, including, the requirement of the presence, attestation or signature of a witness. This will applies to:

  • a member of the Canadian Forces placed on active service pursuant to the National Defence Act
  • a member of any other naval, land or air force while on active service
  • a sailor while at sea or in the course of a voyage (refer to section 5 of the Succession Law Reform Act)

Probate

Term commonly used, and included in the Estates Act, which refers to obtaining a certificate of appointment of estate trustee.

Proof of death certificate

Document prepared by the funeral director used to prove the death of a person.

Proposal for partition

Manner proposed by the estate trustee for the distribution of estate assets among beneficiaries.

Laws cited:

  • Estates Administration Act, RSO 1990, Chapter E.22
  • Rules of Civil Procedure, RRO 1990, Reg 194
  • Succession Law Reform Act, RSO 1990, c S.26
  • Personal Property Security Act, RSO 1990, c P.10

R

Residuary legatee

Person who receives all or a percentage of the estate.

Right of Survivorship

Common law principle which provides that upon the death of one of the owners of property held in joint tenancy, the surviving owner becomes the sole owner. The property is directly passed to the surviving joint owner without going through the estate.

S

Statement of Death

Document typically completed by the funeral director with the declarant (usually a close relative).

T

Terminal return

A final tax return that reports all the income earned by the deceased up to the date of death.

Testamentary disposition

Clause or provision that may be included in a marriage contract or cohabitation agreement. May give a surviving spouse a specific right to the estate or, conversely, eliminate any right of the spouse to the estate. The clause has the same legal authority as a will.

Testamentary search

Process of finding the deceased’s last will and testament. The personal representative is responsible for conducting a search for the deceased’s most recent will.

Testamentary succession

Succession created by the existence of a valid will (refer to articles 34 to 42 of the Succession Law Reform Act).

Testator

Person who bequeaths his property by will.

Trust return

A tax return that reports the income earned by the estate after the testator’s death.

Law cited:

  • Succession Law Reform Act, RSO 1990, c S.26

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