If you’re named as the executor in someone’s Will, you may need to probate the Will. Probate is a procedure done in court that confirms the Will is legally valid. Financial institutions and others holding assets of the estate often require assurance the Will presented is legally valid before transferring funds or assets. The executor of the Will may also want assurance they legally possess the latest Will, in case another surfaces later.

Probate is typically required when the estate assets are worth more than $25,000. It’s up to the institutions that hold the assets whether they’ll transfer them to the executor without probate.

To probate a Will, the executor applies to the Probate Registry, the official keeper of probate documents and records filed for the Supreme Court of BC. This is often done with the help of a lawyer.

If all of the necessary steps have been completed, the paperwork is in order, and the fees paid, the court issues a Grant of Probate. This document confirms that the executor has the authority to act on the Will. The executor can show the Grant to anyone who holds assets of the estate.

Probate is only required for estate assets. Not all things owned by the will-maker form part of the estate. Certain types of assets pass outside the Will. This means they can be transferred to someone without a Grant of Probate, though a copy of the death certificate will still be needed. Common examples include assets held in joint tenancy, and assets with a designated beneficiary.

If the deceased owned real property other than in joint tenancy, probate is required. The land title office will ask you to provide a Grant of Probate, even if the will-maker’s interest in land is less than the $25,000 threshold.

There are fees. When the application is filed, if the estate has a value of more than $25,000, a court filing fee of $200 is required. After all steps have been completed and before the court will give you the Grant of Probate, the probate fee must be paid. This fee is based on a formula; roughly 1.4% of the gross value of the part of the estate over $25,000.

The time frame for the Probate Registry to review and approve probate applications can vary considerably. Generally, the process takes two to three months. Once probate is granted, the executor can proceed with administering the estate.

People’s Law School, whose mission is to provide free education and information to help people deal effectively with the legal problems of daily life, is a helpful source of information. This article relied heavily on their website, where you can find more detailed information.

Written by Margaret Verschuur