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Executor Passes Away, Who Finishes Administering The Will?

Executor Passes Away, Who Finishes Administering the Will?

Post Series: Executorship in BC

When a will writer dies, the executor named in their will handles the administration of the deceased’s estate, ensuring the estate is distributed as intended. This can be a lengthy process, especially when executors are handling large, complex estates. In some cases, the executor passes away before they’re able to finish the estate’s administration. When this happens, what happens to the original will writer’s estate? Who is responsible for finishing the estate administration? The Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) provides guidance on who becomes responsible for the remaining administration of the estate.

The Executor’s Executor Administering Both Estates

As described in s.145 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA),

“If a deceased will maker was an executor of a person who died before the will maker, the executor of the deceased will maker has all the rights, powers, rights of action and liabilities of the deceased will maker with respect to the estate of the deceased person.”

This means that the executor of the deceased executor’s will becomes the executor of both wills. For example, Terry writes a will naming Grace as his executor. Terry passes away and Grace begins administering Terry’s estate. Before completing the administration, Grace also passes away. In Grace’s will, she named Paul as her executor. After Paul has been granted probate on Grace’s will, he is to administer her estate. Further, Paul must finish Grace’s duties as Terry’s executor and administer the remainder of Terry’s estate. In the end, Paul is left administering both estates.

Executor Died Without a Will

Executors are able to refuse executorship before they begin administration.

Using the same example as above, let’s imagine that Grace never wrote a will, hence she doesn’t have an executor who will take on the role of both hers and Terry’s executor. In this case, somebody must apply for a grant of administration from the courts to finish Terry’s estate administration. As for Grace’s estate, she dies intestate. For more information, read our blog on who acts as executor when someone dies intestate.

Should multiple people apply to become Terry’s estate administrator, s.131 of the WESA specifies the following order of priority of who will take on the role:

  1. A beneficiary of the will who has majority consent from all of the beneficiaries.
  2. A person nominated by the beneficiaries who has majority consent from all of the beneficiaries.
  3. A beneficiary of the will who has minority consent from all of the beneficiaries.
  4. Any person the courts and the Public Guardian and Trustee consider to be appropriate.

To finish the application for the grant of administration, after applying for the grant they must remove the deceased as the executor and finally be granted probate as the new executor. From there, the new executor can finish the estate administration.

Executor Died Before the Will Writer

If the executor dies before the will writer, there is a different course of action in determining the executor. Since the estate administration hasn’t started yet, the alternate executor named in the will can take over, or the will writer can appoint a new executor. Will writers are able to name multiple alternate executors in case the primary executor is unable to or unwilling to take on the role. If there is no alternate executor named in the will, then a grant of administration must be obtained from the courts.

To avoid having an executor who you didn’t intend to administer your estate, we recommend naming alternate executors in your will. If you need assistance preparing your will, contact an experienced estate lawyer today. We will help to ensure your estate is handled exactly as your expecting, without any unexpected executors stepping in.

Have a question about this topic or a different legal topic? Contact us for a free consultation. Reach us via phone at 250-888-0002, or via email at

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