In British Columbia, probate will sometimes be required after a person dies. Probate is a legal process that confirms the validity of the Will and confirms the correct person is finalizing the deceased person’s affairs.
Probate is not always needed after a death. If you are not sure, speak to a solicitor who specializes in estate administration law.
If probate is needed and you are the executor of the Will, prepare yourself for a considerable amount of paperwork. There are many forms you will need to fill in, and you need to be certain that the information you provide is accurate, because executors can actually be held personally liable for any mistakes that are made.
If you are overwhelmed at the thought of having to complete the probate process alone, you can always ask an estate lawyer to do it on your behalf. You can cover the legal fees using the money in the deceased person’s ‘estate’, which is the collective term for everything he/she owned.
If you choose not to use a estate lawyer, you will need to complete the following –
- Ask the Vital Statistics Agency to perform a Certificate of Wills Search. This is required by the probate registry at the time you apply for probate and will confirm that the Will you are probating is the last registered Will of the deceased in British Columbia
- Send a copy of the Will and a Notice of Intended Application (Form P1) to all the beneficiaries named in the Will, all those who would have inherited under the intestacy laws if the deceased had not left a Will, any persons who may have the right to apply to vary the Will (namely, spouses and children of the deceased) and all those who also have a legal right to make the application for probate (including all the executors and alternate executors)
- Uncover all the assets and liabilities held by the deceased and calculate the date of death value for each
- Swear an affidavit confirming that you are the executor and that the required persons have been notified of your application
- File your application for a grant of probate at the court. You will need to provide the Will, your sworn affidavits and the Certificate of Wills Search
- Pay the probate filing fee, which will vary according to the total value of the estate
- Wait for the court to issue a Grant of Letters Probate. If there are any problems, the court will ask for the problem to be fixed before it will issue a grant
Once the executor has the grant, he/she can set about administering the estate. Estate administration is essentially the second part of the process you must go through, and the tasks involved will depend entirely on the set of circumstances. At a minimum, you will most likely need to sell the deceased’s property, pay off any debts, file taxes for the deceased and the estate, account to the beneficiaries, and distribute the estate in accordance with the Will.
Help with probate
This is just a brief overview of the probate process. In certain situations, there will be additional forms to complete, more investigations to conduct and unforeseen problems to overcome.