If a relative dies without leaving a will, or leaves a will that appoints an executor who cannot or will not serve, you may want to file for a grant of letters of administration. Letters of administration is a legal authorization to manage the assets and liabilities of a deceased person's estate. In British Columbia, it is issued through the Probate Registry. The deceased person's spouse has the first right to apply for letters of administration. Should she decline, the deceased's child or another relative may do so. Otherwise, the Public Guardian may administer the estate.
Compile a set of forms for the Probate Registry. These forms include proof that there is no will, proof that others who might want to be the administrator have been notified and any with greater claims than yours to administer have renounced their rights to do so, proof that you are competent to administer the estate, and a list of the main components of the estate and their approximate value. For examples of the forms, refer to a self-help manual for probate and administration in British Columbia (see Resources).
File the forms at the Probate Registry. In Vancouver, the office is at 800 Smithe Street, 604-660-2876. For other locations, call the Supreme Court of BC Probate Registry at 800-663-7867.
Wait for a response from the Registrar indicating a decision. If the estate is large or if you did not complete the forms properly, there may be a court hearing.