My loved one died without a will. Can I apply to be their estate trustee?

1. Check to see if there’s a will

If you're applying to be an for a person who died without a will, you have to swear an affidavit that you made a careful search for a will but couldn't find one. This means you must make all reasonable searches for a will. A lawyer can tell you what a reasonable search for a will includes.

Here are some common ways to try and find a will:

  • Look through the person's personal papers at home or in their safety deposit box.
  • Ask the person's family, and friends.
  • Ask anyone who has a Power of Attorney for the person.
  • Ask the person's professional advisors, including lawyers, financial planners, and accountants.
  • Ask the person's caregivers, including nursing home staff.
  • Check the court records in the estates courthouse closest to the person's home. You will need to give court staff the person's full name, address, date of birth, and their death certificate.
  • Place an advertisement in the Ontario Reports and local newspapers asking if anyone knows about the will.

If you cannot find a will, it is assumed that the person never made one, or revoked it by destroying it. This means the will apply. Under the intestacy rules, who gets their property depends on whether they were married or not married.

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