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Sep 20, 2017
Services: Wills and Estates

How Long Do I Have to Administer an Estate?


Estate trustees have difficult task of managing the affairs of the Estate, which can sometimes be a time consuming and prolonged process.

Trustees should therefore be aware of section 9 of the Estates Administration Act. This section provides that real estate, which has not been disposed of within three years from the date of death of the deceased, automatically vests in the beneficiaries. This means that the Estate trustee loses the ability to deal with the property after that time, as the beneficiaries become the owners of the property.

However, a relatively recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision has qualified the application of this “automatic vesting” provision. This case confirms that, where a will has provided the trustee with a broad power to postpone the sale of the Estate property and assets, the automatic vesting does not occur. One exception, as identified by the Court of Appeal, may be where the deceased has provided for a specific bequest of property.  

Most standard wills do normally have this type of postponement provision, which grants the trustee the power to sell property at such times and in such manner as he/she see fit.

So, if you are a trustee and you are acting pursuant to a will with that language, you may not be subject to the automatic vesting rules and you may have longer than three years to arrange for the property to be sold or otherwise dealt with.

For more information about this issue, or for any other estate questions, our lawyers are here to help.  

See 909403 Ontario Ltd. v DiMichele, 2014 ONCA 261

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and is not legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstance.