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Definitions - Will and Powers of Attorney

Administrator: An administrator is a person appointed by the Court to administer the estate when there is no will, the will did not name an executor, an executor has died, or an executor is unwilling to act. A female administrator, is called the “administratrix”. This person is now technically called the “Estate Trustee Without a Will” but the term administrator is still used.

Attorney: The person appointed to look after the donor’s financial affairs in the case of a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property or the donor’s medical affairs in the case of a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. An attorney does not have to be a lawyer.

Beneficiary: A person who receives a benefit or gift under a will, or a person for whose benefit a trust is created.

Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will: The Court document, which includes a certified copy of the will, whereby the Court confirms the executor named in the Will is entitled to administer the estate. This document was previously called “Letters Probate”.

Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee without a Will: This Court document, confirms a person, formerly called an administrator, now called the estate trustee without a will, has the authority to administer the estate. This document was previously called Letters of Administration.

Children’s Lawyer: The Ontario Government official responsible for looking after the interests of children under the age of 18 for all legal matters, but not generally the management of a child’s money. That is done by the Public Guardian and Trustee.

Codicil: An amendment to a will which makes changes or additions. A codicil must be executed with the same formalities that a will is executed.

Continuing Power of Attorney for Property: A written document allowing a person (the donor) to name another person (the attorney) to make financial decisions on behalf of the donor, including if the donor is physically or mentally disabled.

Custodian: The person named in a will to look after one’s minor children in case of death. This appointment is not binding upon the Court. The custodian used to be known as the guardian.

Donor: The person appointing an attorney in powers of attorney.

Estate Trustee: The person named in a will to represent the estate of the deceased person. Also known as executor.

Estate Trustee Without a Will: A Court appointed person to administer the estate of a person, where that person died without a will, the executor died, the executor is unable to act, or an executor was not named. The person is also known as an Administrator.

Executor: A person or trust company named in a will to be responsible for managing the winding up of the deceased’s estate. Since January of 1995, this person is technically called the Estate Trustee though the term executor is still used in wills. A female executor is called an executrix and more than one female are called executrices.

Family Law Act: The Ontario Governments law that deals with rights of spouses during marriage, separation and upon death.

Intestate: A person who dies without a will. A partial intestacy is where a valid will does not dispose of the whole of the estate.

Issue: All persons who have descended from a common ancestor. It is a broader term than children which is limited to one generation.

Joint Tenants: A form of joint ownership in which the death of one joint owner results in the immediate transfer of ownership to the surviving joint owner or owners. See Tenancy in Common.

Letters of Administration: This is the old term for what is now called “Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee without a Will”.

Letters Probate: This is the old term for what is now called “Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will”.

Notarial Certificate: A certificate which a notary public signs and attaches to a copy of a document to certify that the copy is identical to the original. All lawyers are also notaries.

Notarial Copy: A copy of a document to which a notarial certificate is attached.

Official Guardian: This person is now called the “Children’s Lawyer”.

Per Stirpes: Division of an estate on the basis of representation of the same lineal stock, or the same family. The beneficiary takes a share to which his or her deceased parent would have been entitled. Therefore, if there are three children of a deceased person, with each child having two children (therefore six grandchildren), then if one child is not alive, each grandchild would get 1/6th of the estate, being ½ of ⅓.

Power of Attorney for Personal Care: A written document allowing a person (the donor) to appoint another person (the attorney) to look after the donors personal and medical matters if the donor is unable to.

Probate Of Will: Formal proof before the proper officer or court that the will offered is the last will of the testator and confirming the Executor(s) named. This is now called an Application for Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will.

Public Guardian and Trustee: The Ontario Government official who, in the absence of a named executor, administrator or attorney, is responsible for administering an estate, or the affairs of an incompetent person. This official also manages the money of children when no trustee was appointed.

Settlor: A person who establishes a trust.

Succession Law Reform Act: The Ontario Government Act which deals with many issues of estate law, including support of dependants, what happens when a person dies without a will and the rules governing the making of wills.

Survivorship Application: A document a surviving joint tenant registers in the land titles system to transfer the deceased’s share of the property to his or her name only.

Tenancy in Common: A form of joint ownership in which the death of one owner does not result in the immediate transfer of ownership to the surviving owner but the deceased’s interest becomes part of the deceased’s estate.

Testator: A male person who makes a will.

Testatrix: A female person who makes a will.

Transmission Application: A document filed in the land titles office to have title transferred to the name of the personal representative of a deceased owner to enable the personal representative to deal with the property.

Trust: A legal arrangement in which one person (the settlor) transfers title to a person (trustee) to manage the property for the benefit of a person or institution (the beneficiaries). When the trust takes effect on death, it is called a “Testimary Trust”. When the trust takes effect during the settlor’s lifetime, it is called a “Inter Vivos Trust”.

Trustee: The person or trust company that manages property according to the instructions in the trust agreement and the laws governing trustees.

Will: A legal document, prepared by a person, called a testator or testatrix if female, in compliance with formal requirements, which takes affect on his/her death and which states what he/she wants to happen to his/her property on death. The will also decides who manages the property. The will may discuss custody of minor children and the funeral arrangements, though custody is not binding upon the Court and the funeral arrangements do not technically have to be followed by the executor.