Thanks for your question! In order to give you some guidance I spoke
to a friend who works as a legal assistant at a major Ottawa law firm.
She cautioned, however, that the following information should be taken
as "solid advice based on personal experience," not cut-and-dry legal
advice, since she's not a lawyer herself.
That said, here's what I learned.
There are several approaches you can take to get started. You may want
to begin by contacting the funeral home that handled your father's
arrangements. (If unsure, obtain a certified death certificate as per
instructions below). Ask for paperwork to obtain the Statement of
Death, to which you are entitled as a child of the deceased. You might
also want to find out who authorized the transferal of your father's
body from the hospital to the funeral home. Would anyone besides your
brother have been around at the time of your father's death to make
the arrangements? Would you be able to contact this person for further
Secondly, do you know of any law firms or banks your father may have
worked with, or know how to reach any of your father's friends who
might know? Most mortgages require a will to be created, so if your
father had a mortgage and you are able to contact the bank that issued
it, they should be able to direct you to the law firm that handled the
will. Unless someone else has already done so, you may also be able to
access any safety deposit boxes belonging to your father, which may
contain a will.
Once you obtain a copy of a will, if one exists, you have access to
the estate as kin if no executor has been named.
You mentioned that no file exists with the court for your father's
estate. This would likely indicate that your father didn't have
significant assets - usually an estate file is only created when an
estate goes to probate to deal with large assets (eg house, real
estate, vehicles), especially if the deceased owed money to creditors.
Unless there are sizeable assets to be divided/liquidated, it's not at
all uncommon for no estate file to exist.
If you are unable to obtain a copy of a will or an estate file, you
may, as you mentioned, wish to file a motion to create such a file.
Then you'll know if there's anything worth contesting, or if there's
any estate to speak of. If you decide it's worth contesting the
division of the estate, my friend recommends hiring a lawyer - while
you can represent yourself, you'll likely save time and stress in the
long run by hiring an estate lawyer. While this is a fairly
straightforward area of law, there are certain meticulous sections
which an untrained eye might miss. A tip: you may save money by
contacting a junior associate.
Finally, as a child of the deceased, you are entitled to a long form
certified copy of your father's death certificate, which can be
obtained for $22 CDN by using the form at the following site:
How do I obtain a marriage, birth or death certificate?
< http://www.cbs.gov.on.ca/mcbs/english/4ULUQT.htm >
You might also wish to check out the following helpful website from
the Ontario government:
What to do when someone dies
< http://www.gov.on.ca/MBS/english/myontarioweb/bereavement.html >
You can contact the Ottawa Courthouse estate counter at 613-239-1024.
Finally, here are some Ottawa law firms you may want to contact:
< http://www.blgcanada.com/firm/ottawa.asp >
Frasier Milner Casgrain
< http://www.fmc-law.com/scripts/index_.asp >
< www.mccarthy.ca >
< http://www.nelligan.ca >
< http://www.soloways.com >
Best of luck with everything. If you require any confirmation or
additional help, please let me know!