Since January 1, 2015, anyone who has been issued a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee has been required to file the Estate Information Return (“EIR”) with the Ministry of Finance within 90 days of the Certificate being issued.
As it is now just slightly more than 4 years since this requirement came into play, it seems as good a time as any to reflect on the process and what could be improved.
Streamlining the Process
Often clients ask me why the EIR is not submitted at the time of making the application for a Certificate. A lot of the information provided at the application stage is the same or similar to that provided for the EIR. It is possible to apply for a Certificate based only on an estimate of the value of the estate, but in order to avoid the extra work of providing and then satisfying an undertaking to the court, the majority of my clients elect to gather exact figures for the assets prior to making the application and apply on the basis of an exact value of the estate. In these cases, the EIR feels redundant as it is nothing more than a detailed confirmation of the asset values that were reported on the application. Could there be an option to provide this information along with the application (ie. a more detailed application) for those estates where the executor does not elect to apply based on an estimated value?
Any estate where the application is made based on an estimated value or where assets are subsequently discovered will have to file an amended EIR in any event. A more streamlined process available to estates that are able to provide the information up front would reduce time and money spent on the “simpler” files.
Difficulties with the Forms
Certificate of Succeeding Estate Trustee
The Guide and the EIR form indicate that if you have received a Certificate of Succeeding Estate Trustee that you do not have to file an EIR. This makes sense because theoretically the EIR should have been filed by the grantee of the original Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee. But what about estates where an EIR was never filed? For example, if the original Estate Trustee died shortly after receiving the Certificate of Appointment and before filing the EIR. The Succeeding Estate Trustee is obligated to file the EIR, but the checklist of possible Certificates in the actual Return excludes this type of Certificate and the Guide specifically says that you do not need to submit an EIR if you have been granted a Certificate of Succeeding Estate Trustee. It would not be difficult to amend the Guide to provide more nuanced direction and add “Certificate of Appointment of Succeeding Estate Trustee” to the list of Certificates in Section A. Currently, the only option if you are in this situation is to submit a paper copy of the EIR where you handwrite “Certificate of Appointment of Succeeding Estate Trustee” onto the form.
If the deceased owned one or more empty lots in a rural area, those properties may not have mailing addresses and postal codes attached to them. However, you will not be able to submit your EIR online if you do not include a postal code. I understand the need to be thorough, but if you can supply an MPAC roll number, a PIN and a legal description for a property, I think an “Unassigned” or “Not Applicable” should suffice for the postal code.
Another issue with rural properties may arise if the deceased lived on a rural property at the time of their death or the executor currently lives in a rural area. The EIR online form requires you to list a “Street Type” for each of these addresses (ie. “123 Lakeshore Road”) although often rural addresses may not include a street type as they are located on highways (ie. “1234 Hwy 5.” I do not think “Street Type” needs to be a required answer on this form.
If the deceased owned a co-operative apartment, should this be reported under the “Real Estate” section of the EIR? As the deceased only owned shares in the Co-Operative which gave them exclusive rights to their unit, there is not a PIN or MPAC assessment roll number for their specific unit and you will not be able to submit your EIR online without providing this information.