Letters of Administration in British Columbia

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 so we highly recommend that you have Nova Law help you.

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 TFSA or life insurance policies are NOT part of a person’s estate for probate purposes.

How is the estate transferred after you die?

Your assets that are in your estate can be transferred in two ways:

  • either in accordance with your Will (for more information please see our Grant of Probate page), or
  • if you die “intestate”, meaning without a Will the estate is distributed as per the Wills, Estates and Succession Act.

Do you need to apply for Letters of Administration? 

We offer a no charge initial consultation respecting an estate. We will let you know if letters of administration is required. But, generally, you do not have to apply for a Grant of Administration is the gross value of the estate is less than $25,000.

How can lawyers help

If you are the executor or the administrator of an estate, you may be able to handle it yourself, but your job will be made considerably easier if you find a lawyer you trust who knows her way around the business of estates.

Without a Will – Letters of Administration 

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.

In any event, one must determine how much the deceased’s estate might be worth. The purpose of this step is to determine the need to apply for a Grant of Administration. Generally, you do not have to apply for a Grant of Administration is the gross value of the estate is less than $25,000.

Now, when it comes to distributing the estate, where there is a spouse and descendants, the spouse receives the household furnishing and the spousal preferential share.  The amount of the spousal share is dependent upon whether the surviving descendants are descendants of both the deceased spouse and surviving spouse.  The spouse no longer has a “life estate” in the spousal home.

What steps do you need to take? 

The administrator is responsible for many different tasks, including notifying insurance companies and the holders of assets, locating and contacting the beneficiaries, paying debts and obligations, and distributing assets. Coordinating all of these arrangements can take several weeks to many months. For a handy list see Steps You Should Take Now.  The steps required can include:

Administrator’s Pay

Executors are entitled to be paid for their services. The maximum amount is 5% of the aggregate value of the estate, but rarely do executors take the maximum. Some executors choose not to take any fee at all if they are a friend or relative. Whether an executor takes a fee, or not, they are entitled to be paid their out-of-pocket expenses. Executors 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.

The Cost of Letters of Administration

The cost of Probate is broken down in two categories:

  1. Probate fees charged by the Government of British Columbia; and
  2. The cost of hiring a lawyer to make the probate application.

Probate Filing 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.

No fee is payable if the gross value of the estate is less than $25,000.

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

Our Legal Fees for Letters of Administration

We do not charge for the initial consultations of 30 minutes, and if no probate is required, you will not pay us anything after that first meeting.

There are certain matters where we are able to charge a flat fee. We may not be able to do the work for a flat fee in the case of a Grant of Administration, but what we can assure you with is that we can support you with straight-forward, efficient, and cost-effective legal services just when you need them most. 

For more information on the cost of an application for a Grant of Administration please see our Pricing page. In any event, the cost of hiring a lawyer to make the court application is paid for by the estate.

Who shall I talk to?

Nova Law will make sure that administrators, and beneficiaries are kept fully informed during all stages of estate administration. To ensure that our meeting is focused, please fill out and submit our Estate Checklist and Questionnaire

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