Probate and Estate Administration
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Probate in Ontario: A Step-by-Step Guide

Written by
The Tabuchi Law Team
Published on
January 17, 2024

What is Probate in Ontario?

Probate is the legal process of proving a will and distributing the assets of a deceased person. In Ontario, probate is handled by the Superior Court of Justice.

The probate process can be complex and time-consuming, so having an experienced lawyer is essential. A probate lawyer can help you:

  • Find and prepare the necessary documents
  • File the will with the court
  • Identify and collect the assets of the estate
  • Pay the debts of the estate
  • Distribute the assets to the beneficiaries

If you need probate help, contact our team at Tabuchi Law today.

Who Needs Probate in Ontario?

In Ontario, probate is required for any estate that includes real estate or any other asset registered in the deceased person's name. This includes assets such as:

  • Real estate (such as a house or land)
  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Vehicles (such as a car or boat or anything else that is registered with the government)
  • Life insurance policies

If the deceased person did not have a will, or if the will does not name an executor, then the estate must go through probate, even if it does not include any real property or registered assets.

Probate is also required for any estate worth more than $50,000. The government requires a probated will to release funds from deceased people's bank accounts or other financial institutions.

When is probate required?

In Ontario, probate is required for any estate containing real property or assets held in trust. This includes estates of both residents and non-residents of Ontario.

If the deceased person had a will, the executor named in the will will be responsible for applying for probate. If the deceased person did not have a will, the court will appoint an administrator to administer the estate.

The probate process can be complex and time-consuming, so speaking to an experienced lawyer is essential if you're unsure whether your estate needs probate.

How to Apply for Probate in Ontario

You must petition the Superior Court of Justice to apply for probate in Ontario. The petition must include the following information: 

  1. The name of the deceased person
  2. The date of death
  3. The location of the deceased person's will
  4. The names of the beneficiaries of the will
  5. The names of any creditors of the deceased person
  6. A list of all of the deceased person's assets and debts
  7. A proposed executor for the estate 

The petition must be signed by the proposed executor and filed with the court clerk. The court will then schedule a hearing to consider the petition. The court will review the petition at the hearing and decide whether to grant probate. If the court grants probate, the executor will be authorized to administer the deceased person's estate. The cost of applying for probate in Ontario varies depending on the estate size. The court will charge a fee for filing the petition and for each creditor who is served with notice of the hearing. The executor will also be responsible for paying the costs of administering the estate, such as attorney's fees, court costs, and executor's commissions. The probate process in Ontario can take several months to complete. The length of time will depend on the estate's size and the administration process's complexity.

Cost of Probate in Ontario

The cost of probate in Ontario can vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate. However, some of the standard costs associated with probate include:

  • Court filing fees
  • Executor's fees
  • Attorney's fees
  • Publication costs
  • Transfer taxes

The Ministry of the Attorney General sets the court filing fees for probate in Ontario. The current filing fee is $150 for estates valued at less than $25,000 and $250 for estates valued at more than $25,000.

The executor's fees are typically a percentage of the estate's value. The court sets the executor's fee, and the percentage can vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate.

The attorney's fees are typically a percentage of the estate's value. The attorney sets the attorney's fee, and the percentage can vary depending on the estate's complexity and the services provided.

The publication costs are the costs associated with publishing a notice of probate in a newspaper. The newspaper sets the publication costs, which can vary depending on the newspaper's size and the notice's length.

The transfer taxes are the taxes that are levied on the transfer of property from the deceased person to the beneficiaries. The provincial government sets the transfer taxes, and the rate can vary depending on the transferred property type.

The total cost of probate in Ontario can vary significantly from one estate to another. However, the fees listed above are some of the typical expenses associated with probate.

Probate Timeline in Ontario

The probate timeline in Ontario can vary depending on the complexity of the estate and the number of assets involved. However, the following is a general overview of what to expect:

  • The executor or administrator will file the probate application with the court. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
  • Once the application is approved, the executor or administrator will be issued a grant of probate. This document gives them the legal authority to manage the deceased person's estate.
  • The executor or administrator must gather the deceased person's assets and debts. This process can take several months, depending on the size and complexity of the estate.
  • The executor or administrator must then pay off the deceased person's debts. This process can take several months, depending on the amount of debt and the number of creditors.
  • Once all debts have been paid, the executor or administrator will distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. This process can take several months, depending on the number of beneficiaries and the type of assets involved.

The probate process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. However, it is essential to note that this is just a general overview, and the timeline may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the estate.

Probate Exemptions in Ontario

Probate exemptions are assets that are not subject to probate. This means they can be transferred to the beneficiaries without going through probate. Some common probate exemptions include:

  • Life insurance proceeds
  • Retirement accounts 
  • Jointly-owned property 
  • Assets that are held in a trust 
  • Assets that are worth less than the probate threshold 

The probate threshold is the minimum amount of assets subject to probate. In Ontario, the probate threshold is $50,000. Any assets worth less than $50,000 are not subject to probate. It's important to note that probate exemptions are not automatic. You must take steps to claim them. For example, if you have a life insurance policy, you must ensure the beneficiary is named correctly. You must ensure the beneficiary is designated appropriately if you have a retirement account. If you're unsure if an asset is exempt from probate, it's best to speak to an estate planning attorney. 

Conclusion

Probate in Ontario can feel like navigating a maze with unfamiliar forms, deadlines, and emotional hurdles. While DIY options might seem tempting, one wrong turn can lead to costly delays, family discord, and even legal challenges. Do you genuinely want to shoulder this burden alone, risking missteps that could undermine your loved ones' inheritance?

At Tabuchi Law, we understand the anxieties and complexities of probate. Our dedicated team of legal professionals possesses the expertise and compassion to navigate this process with you every step of the way. We'll be your unwavering guide, ensuring paperwork accuracy and advocating for your family's best interests.

Choosing Tabuchi Law is an investment in peace of mind. Don't let the intricacies of probate overwhelm you. Contact Tabuchi Law today for a free consultation.

Resources for Probate in Ontario

The following are some related articles that you may find helpful if you are going through the probate process in Ontario:

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