What steps should I take to ensure the proper distribution of assets according to the Will or provincial law?

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The executor must follow the instructions in the Will and distribute the assets accordingly. The British Columbia Wills, Estates and Succession Act imposes a 210-day waiting period during which an executor must not distribute the estate without the beneficiaries’ consent or a court order. This waiting period is to allow beneficiaries who may have a claim for Will variation to file their claim. Further, an executor should ensure that all debts and taxes are paid before making a distribution to the beneficiaries of the Will.

The distribution of an estate may depend on the type of gift set out in the Will. Gifts may be conditional, which means that they depend upon a particular event taking place or a particular situation existing. The Will-maker may also make specific gifts, giving particular assets to named individuals or broadly dividing the estate assets among named groups.

As a note, certain items are not passed through a Will, such as life insurance, property held in joint tenancy, or funds in an RRSP which a beneficiary was named. When making final distributions to a beneficiary, he executor should obtain approval of their executor fees and a Release from beneficiaries on payment of the bequest.