Estate Administration

Probate and Letters of Administration in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia

Recently I read a book in which one of the characters lost someone, they said: “Perhaps they are not stars in the sky but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.”

Navigating the legal system is hard at the best of times, but we know it is harder when you are facing the loss of a loved one. Administering an estate is a lengthy process with many steps, and we would very much want to help you.

Applying for Probate or Letters of Administration

When a person passes away, their estate will typically go through a process known as probate. Among other things, the probate process confirms that the person’s will is legally valid and an executor is named to administer the estate. Furthermore, the process confirms that the assets should be included in the deceased’s estate, that the assets don’t actually belong to someone, and don’t already have a predetermined beneficiary. Assets that must be probated typically, include:
* Bank accounts and investments,
* Real estate,
* Vehicles.
Items that likely won’t need to go through probate include assets with joint ownership, such as, a home or a joint bank account shared with a spouse, and assets like insurance policies, TFSAs and RRSPs with a predesignated beneficiary.
Read on for our Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.

Top Ten Steps You Must Take When Acting as an Executor or an Administrator

  1. Make funeral arrangement
  2. Gather information
  3. Safeguard the deceased’s assets
  4. Apply for Probate or Letters of Administration
  5. Receive approval from the Supreme Court of BC
  6. Record all money you spend or receive as executor or administrator
  7. Complete and file tax returns
  8. Obtain a Clearance Certificate
  9. Pay off the estate debts
  10. Distribute assets to beneficiaries

What are probate fees?

Before the Registry will issue either Grant, Probate Filing Fees must be paid and they are based on the gross value of the deceased’s assets which pass through the estate. Assets that do not pass through the estate and certain assets situated outside British Columbia are not subject to Probate Filing fees.
If the gross value of the estate is over $25,000 – the fee payable is $200, plus $6 for each $1,000 or part of $1,000 of estate value in excess of $25,000, up to $50,000, plus $14 for each $1,000 or part of $1,000 of estate value in excess of $50,000.
For example, on an estate valued at $500,000, the probate Filing Fees would be $6,650 as follows:
Basic Fee $200.00
Additional Fee(s)·  $25,001 to $50,000
·  $50,001 to $500,000


What is the cost of estate administration?

Flat Legal Fees

Starting at $3,500

*Plus disbursements and taxes. There may be situations that warrant different fee arrangements.

For more information on how we charge legal fees and how you can save with our Nova Bundles, please see our Legal Fees Explained page.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is an “Estate”?

A person’s “estate” consists of all the things that he or she owns at death. Things such as a car, bank accounts, clothes, jewelry, and/or business interest – anything that he or she owns is part of that person’s estate. Joint accounts and beneficiary designation accounts such as RRSPs or life insurance policies are NOT part of a person’s estate for estate administration purposes.


How is the Estate transferred after you die?

Your assets that are in your estate can be transferred in two ways:
* In accordance with your Will, known as Probate
*If you die “intestate”, meaning without a Will, the estate is distributed as per the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, known as Letters of Administration


Are you an Executor?

As an Executor, you are responsible for settling an estate according to the deceased’s wishes. One of the most important duties an Executor has is to establish the validity of the Will. This is called probating the Will, and there are numerous Affidavits to be prepared and filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia before a Will is validated.


What if there is no Will?

If there is no Will, then there is no executor. Instead someone has to act as the administrator. The Wills, Estates and Succession Act establishes the people who have a right to administer the estate when a person dies without a Will, such as the spouse of the deceased, or someone nominated by the spouse or a child of the deceased.
If there is no next of kin willing and able to handle this responsibility, then the Public Guardian and Trustee may consider administering the estate after an assessment determines whether their services are warranted. If no one applies to administer the estate, the court may appoint an Official Administrator, which will likely take more time and cost more, than if there was a Will.  The powers and duties of an administrator are roughly equivalent to those of an executor.


Do you have to apply for estate administration?

One of the first things an executor or administrator does is determine how much the deceased’s estate might be worth. The purpose of this step is to determine the need to apply for estate administration. Generally, you do not have to apply for Probate or Letters of Administration if the gross value of the estate is less than $25,000.


How long does the process take?

If you are named as Executor for a friend’s or relative’s estate, or if you are applying to become an administrator of the estate, be prepared for a long process. The application for Probate or Letters of Administration can at times be frustrating, but also interesting and informative. 
One the application materials are submitted to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, a waiting game ensues. The amount of waiting time will depend on many different factors, including the number of applications the courts have received around that time, or whether there are any inaccuracies or other problems on the application.
After waiting weeks, the executor/administrator may receive a rejection notice from the courts due to problems such as incomplete or inaccurate information. It is the executor/administrator’s responsibility to fix the information and re-submit the application. Then, the waiting process starts over. If the application is rejected multiple times, this can easily extend the entire probate process by months.
At a minimum, probating an estate can take three or four months. For complicated estates with many beneficiaries the process can take over a year.


Do you get paid?

Executors/Administrators are entitled to be paid for their services. The maximum amount is 5% of the aggregate value of the estate, but rarely do executors/administrators take the maximum. Some choose not to take any fee at all if they are a friend or relative. Whether an executor/administrator takes a fee, or not, they are entitled to be paid their out-of-pocket expenses.
Executors and Administrators must understand that the job can be time consuming and sometimes frustrating, but it can also be very rewarding once the task has been completed.


What is the cost of probate and letters of administration?

The cost of Probate is broken down in two categories:
* Probate fees charged by the Government of British Columbia; and
* The cost of hiring a lawyer to make the probate application.

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