When a person dies, the law assigns a personal representative to the deceased’s estate who is responsible for paying just claims against the estate, complete performance of outstanding contractual obligations, pursue claims against others and distribute the remaining assets in accordance with the will or in the case of no will, distribute the assets to heirs according to statutory provisions. If the personal representative is named in the will, he/she is called an executor (or executrix) otherwise, the court will appoint a personal representative called an administrator.
Before the personal representative can assume his/her duties, the will needs to be declared valid by court ordered probate. Probate is the process whereby a court declares a will to be valid and affirms the personal representative’s authority. If there isn’t a valid will, a court approval comes in the form of a letter called Letter of Administration, permitting the distribution of the estate.
In Manitoba, the personal representative may be able to sell the property however the title of the property cannot be transferred until the will has been probated or Letter of Administration has been issued. You can sign a listing agreement with the real estate agent before the probate is granted or administration is issued but a letter from the lawyer is usually necessary to confirm that you have the authority to sign the listing agreement.
Please note that this is a complicated legal matter and services of a lawyer are strongly recommended.
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