Probate & Estate Administration
We assist executors, administrators, trustees and personal representatives obtain grants of probate and administer estates.
Probate and Estate Administration
What is Estate Administration?
Estate Administration involves gathering in and winding up the affairs of a deceased’s estate, and then distributing estate assets to the beneficiaries after all taxes, debts and liabilities are satisfied. The person who manages an estate is a “personal representative” (commonly called an executor). If there is no will, or if the will does not adequately appoint an executor, and the court can appoint an administrator to manage the estate upon application.
What is a Grant of Probate?
Probate is the process of having the Supreme Court of British Columbia establish the validity of a will. For example, probate is often required by banks and other institutions before unfreezing the deceased’s accounts. Probate also initiates certain limitation periods with respect to wills variation applications. There are other reasons why probate may be required or desirable, which circumstances vary from case to case.
Is a Grant of Probate Required?
Not all wills need to be probated, although circumstances and whether or not probate is recommended or necessary will vary from case to case. Often, whether or not probate is required will be determined by third parties, such as banks. As well, if the estate includes real estate, probate is required before the land can be transferred to the executor or beneficiaries, or otherwise be sold. If you are wondering whether probate is required or desirable for your matter, you should consider scheduling a consultation with an estate administration lawyer.
I am an executor - what should I consider?
If you have been appointed as executor under a will, or if you are considering applying to become an administrator of a deceased’s estate, you should be aware that these roles come with great responsibility under the law. Acting in your capacity as executor or administrator, you may be taking on liabilities of the estate. Before taking on this role, it is best to seek a lawyer’s advice regarding your duties and responsibilities for the particular estate you are administering.
How Long does probate Take?
The answer is that it varies from estate to estate. Probate can be a lengthy and time consuming process. If the estate is complex, if there are a significant number of assets, or if there are beneficiaries who may contest the will, the process can quickly become complicated.
Do I have a complex estate?
There are a variety of factors to consider, but often if the estate is significant in value or contains a variety of different assets such as personal effects, bank accounts, investments, land, shares of private companies, or life insurance (to name a few), this may increase the complexity. As well, the grant of probate can become more complex if there are numerous or missing beneficiaries, or if one or more beneficiaries contest the will or the proposed distribution of assets.
What if There is No Will?
If there is no will, the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) outlines what happens to the assets and liabilities of a deceased’s estate. There is a different process for obtaining a grant of administration where there is no will. For matters involving intestacy (i.e. dying without a will), it is advisable to speak with a lawyer.
The First Step
Schedule a probate consultation
At the initial consultation, your lawyer will ask you specific questions about the estate and give you an idea of what your probate process will look like. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions your may have about the probate process, or your role as executor.
What Happens next
We will prepare and File your Court Application
We will gather the required information (with your help), send the appropriate notices and prepare the appropriate legal forms and documents ready for submission to the court. When ready, you will have an opportunity to review and sign the application before submitted.
The Grant of Probate
Validation of the Will
The will and supporting documents will then be validated by the court registrar, a process which generally takes anywhere from 4-6 months for simple, straightforward estates. Once the court has approved the application, a Grant of Probate will be delivered to our office. You are now able to continue fulfilling your role as executor and begin the transfer and distribution of assets.
How can we Help?
Get in touch with us to have one of our team members reach out to you.