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Executors: Fatal Accident Claims and Estate Administration

In Alberta, when someone dies as a result of the negligent or criminal actions of another person, the Executor or Administrator of the deceased person's estate should be aware of a possible claim under the Fatal Accidents Act, against the person whose actions caused death. Section 3 of the FAA states that the action can be brought by the Executor on behalf of all the potential claimants - deceased's spouse, adult interdependent partner, parents, children and siblings.

The FAA also sets out the amount for which claimants must be compensated for bereavement and for associated costs. The spouse or adult interdependent partner of the deceased is entitled to $82,000, provided they were not living separate and apart at the time of death. The deceased's parents are also entitled to $82,000 (collectively), while each of the deceased's children is entitled to $49,000. These amounts are reviewed by the Executive Council every five years, and were to be reviewed on June 1, 2017.

Siblings are not entitled to bereavement damages but can claim reimbursement, along with other claimants, for expenses incurred for care of the deceased between the time of injury and death, travel expenses incurred visiting the deceased between the time of injury and death, other costs associated with the funeral as well as grief counselling.

In some circumstances the amount for bereavement damages may be reduced if the deceased acted in a manner that contributed to his or her death, e.g.,  riding as a passenger in a vehicle when they knew the driver was impaired.

It is important that Executors not overlook this claim but ensure they pursue all potential claims under the FAA as part of their duties in adminstering the deceased's estate. If the Executor does not file a claim within one year of death, any person with a claim can apply to court to appoint a litigation representative to advance the claim on behalf of the estate. As with any other claim in Alberta, the claim must be filed within two years of the date the claim arose, failing which the claim will be lost. 

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