Probate and Estate Lawyers, Port Moody, British Columbia
Probate: Are you an Executor? We can help you.
If you are named as Executor for a friend’s or relative’s estate, be prepared for a long process. 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.
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.
The application for a Grant of Probate can at times be frustrating, but also interesting and informative.
There are many different steps involved in the entire probate process. The steps required can include:
The executor will first need to gather all of the necessary information and documents to apply for the probate. If the estate is large and complex, this step alone can require a substantial amount of time. It is important for the executor to take the time necessary to ensure that all of the information is included and accurate.
Applying for Probate and Receiving Approval
Next, the application materials will be submitted to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. After the application is submitted, 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 may receive a rejection notice from the courts due to problems such as incomplete or inaccurate information. It is the executor’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.
Obtaining a Clearance Certificate
In some cases, even after the grant of probate is issued, the executor may still have to wait before being able to distribute the assets. The Canada Revenue Agency may require a Clearance Certificate before any assets are released. Receiving this certificate can take several months or more than a year.
Executing the Will
Once all of the applications have been sent and approved, the executor of the estate can then start the process of distributing assets to beneficiaries. This step can be quite difficult, depending upon the size and complexity of the estate, the number of beneficiaries, and any creditors that are owed.
The executor 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.
In addition to the application for a Grant of Probate, the Executor has additional duties such as the following:
- making funeral arrangements;
- making an inventory of the deceased’s assets;
- making a list of the deceased’s liabilities;
- safeguarding the deceased’s assets;
- completing and filing tax returns;
- attending to the payment of the estate debts, which includes any income tax owing.
The executor may complete many of his duties relatively quickly; however, sometime they may take many months, or sometimes years, if the Will is challenged. Even simple estates can take several months. Many lawyers will assist the executors and act as an agent for the executor in obtaining probate, or calling in the deceased’s assets.
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.
Do you need to Probate an Estate in British Columbia?
Our probate lawyers offer a no charge initial consultation for probating estates. We will let you know if probate is not required. Some of the factors to decide if an estate need probating is if there is land involved (and how it is held), they type of other assets held, where and how assets are held and the size of some assets like bank accounts.
Letters of Administration (Intestate – Death Without a Will)
Like probate, letters of administration or grant of administration determines who administers an estate and who inherits the estate when there is no Will. The process is similar to probate and we are here to help you.
A person dying without a will is deemed to have died “intestate” and that person’s estate will be distributed according to the new Wills, Estates and Succession Act (“WESA”). Someone must apply to the Court for a Grant of Administration in order to administer the estate, and Section 130 of WESA sets out the order of priority of applicants. The spouse has priority and may also nominate someone else who is entitled to that same priority without the consent of the children. The person appointed is called the administrator.
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.
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.
More questions? Contact us for a free 30 minute consultation.
The Cost of Probate or 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.
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:
||· $25,001 to $50,000
· $50,001 to $500,000
Our Legal Fees for Probate
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. We have two options for our legal fees when acting for an estate during probate.
They are either flat rate or based on the value of the estate. For more information on the price and cost of an application for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Administration please contact us.
The cost of hiring a lawyer to make the court application is paid for by the estate.
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 his or her way around the business of estates. He or she can do a lot of the work and banks seem to give more weight to a lawyer’s instructions than those of the executor.
For legal advice on the various steps of applying for probate or grant of administration please contact our offices.