Probate and Estate Administration Lawyer Surrey BC
We ease the burden on executors and estate administrators to ensure the wishes of the deceased are carried through.
The passing of a loved one can be one of the most stressful and emotional periods in one's life. Having the responsibility of making difficult decisions on behalf of the deceased during a time of grief can become overwhelming.
With the assistance of an estate lawyer, they help provide executors or estate administrators the necessary support and guidance to ensure that the obligations of the estate are fulfilled correctly in accordance to BC law.
What is the Purpose of an Estate Grant?
An estate grant has several important functionalities:
- Allows dealing with assets
- Appoints an administrator
- Finalizes approval of will
- The process allows space for people to object. Once grant is finalized no objection is possible
- Provides space for creditors to make claims. If process properly followed, protects executor from claims
- Allows passing of certain assets that usually cannot be passed without estate grant such as non-joint bank accounts and real estate
Estate Administration with a Will vs. without a will?
There are three common estate administration scenarios:
- There is a will that appoints an executor. The court just needs to approve the will.
- There is a will that does not appoint an executor or executor cannot act. Estate grant will approve will and also approve executor.
- If there is no will, you can apply to get estate grant to deal with assets and receive status as executor. Once appointed, this gives final approval so others cannot challenge.
What is Probate in BC?
Probate is the process by which a will is authenticated by the British Columbia courts and declared legally valid. Once the will is validated, the appointed executor will have the authority to administor the estate of the deceased.
Executor or Estate Administrator Responsibilities
As the personal representative of an estate, you may be tasked with the following list of duties:
- Possess, valuate and protect all estate assets
- Collect contact information (name and addresses) of all beneficiaries and next-to-kin
- Gather and pay all valid debts of the estate
- Distribute assets to all beneficiaries
- Filing final tax returns for the deceased and the estate
- Cancelling the deceased's subscriptions and charge accounts, redirecting mail, and completing other personal matters
- Informing government agencies about the death (e.g. Canada Pension Plan)
- Preparing an estate accounting for the beneficiaries
Important Tip: Track your expenses and keep the receipts to obtain compensation from the estate.
Probate Without a Will
In the event that the person dies without a will (died intestate), the deceased's loved one will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration to be granted official authority to handle the affairs of the estate.
If no person applies to become an estate adminstrator, distribution of the estate will be governed by the rules put forth by the Wills, Estates and Succession Act.
What are the Steps to the Estate Grant Process?
The estate grant process involves searching for any other wills that might exist and advertising for creditors.
- Legal notice to all parties - including persons who have a legal right to challenge the will, as well as those who are disinherited
- Preparing legal documents to be filed with the Supreme Court of BC
- Submitting application and notice of probate fees
- Approval and debt payment, as well as ensuring the deceased taxes are filed
- Transfer of assets to the rightful recipients under the will
What Costs are Involved with Probate?
Probate Fee on Assets
In BC, probate fees are collected on the gross value of all assets in the deceased's name that does not have a designated beneficiary. Assets that are jointly-owned or beneficiary-designated are usually excluded from probate fees.
The amount in fees are based on the following estate values:
- No probate fee for the first $25,000
- 0.6% fee for value between $25,000 and $50,000
- 1.4% fee for value over $50,000
- Court Application Fee - $200 for estates with a gross value of over $25,000
- Court-Certified Document Copies - $40 per copy of court-certified copies of the grant of probate or the statement of assets and liabilities.
Appraisal and Valuation Fees
Estimating the fair market value for individual assets may depend on the nature of the asset. Some assets may not have a clear value and may require professional appraisers to valuate. These appraisers may include:
- Estate auctioneers
- Accountants for overseas or business assets
- Professional jewelry, antiques, or collectibles appraiser
- Vehicle appraisers
Lawyer fees to represent you in the probate process. An experienced probate lawyer may be able to help you reduce or avoid probate fees.
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The short answer is yes. It will includes assets such as bank accounts and real estate. Then the will must be probated before you can transfer these assets. However, if the estate does not involve these kinds of assets then you can probably avoid probate. You should still advertise for creditors to protect yourself as an executor.
A will can be contested anytime before the grant of probate is issued. The person applying for probate must provide a notice in appropriate form to all people who would have a right to receive assets from the estate on intestacy. However, if you have received notice, you will not be able to contest the will after the grant of probate has been issued.
All of the assets that are passing through the will are subject to probate, and to the probate fee. Any assets passing outside of the will are not subject to this probate fee. Call your estate planning lawyer to create an estate plan to reduce the total probate fees that must be paid.
The time required for completion of the probate process varies depending on whether the will is contested or not. If the will is uncontested a grant of probate will usually take from 6 months to 1 year or more. This time period mostly depends on wait times in the courts.
Probate is a complicated process and we recommend obtaining the help of an experienced lawyer to help with this process. However, if you wish, you can complete the process yourself. Note that some documents must be notarized.
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