Relevant Statutes

The Indian Act, in particular the estates sections 42-50.1 and the Indian Estates Regulation, give the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) the authority to approve a Will, declare it void in whole or in part and appoint an administrator or executor of an estate. The Minister must approve the Will. If there is no Will, or the Minister cannot approve it, or it has been challenged and declared void, then the estate will be distributed according to the Indian Act.

If the administrator or executor requests it, the Minister may transfer his authority to a provincial/territorial court to make decisions on an estate. The court will still apply the Indian Act; however, the court has other powers that may be of benefit to estate administration, including subpoenas, the production of evidence, or direction when a business or large assets are involved.

Note: in August 2017, the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and a plan to create two new departments: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations) and Indigenous Services Canada. This transformation will take time and includes engagement with Indigenous peoples and others.