In some cases, probate may not be necessary in British Columbia

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An appointment as executor of an estate means a difficult process is about to begin, likely during a time of great emotional stress. Going through the stages of probate and estate administration in British Columbia can be a complex task even for a professional. The good news is, there are circumstances under which probate may be minimized, or bypassed altogether.

The purpose of probate is to confirm an executor as having the legal authority to administer the estate. The executor then has the proven right to deal with third parties such as financial institutions and transfer agents. Probate also creates a time limit for claims against the estate.

Despite these benefits to probating a will, there are also some drawbacks. Once a will has passed probate, it becomes available to the public. There may be situations in which it is preferable to keep the details of the will or the estate private. A very common reason for avoiding probate is the fees. Probate fees apply to the value of the estate, and some people will plan carefully to avoid probating valuable assets.

For example, property held jointly between two people will typically pass directly to the surviving owner and does not become part of the estate. This is often done with bank accounts and real estate. Insurance policies and registered accounts such as TFSAs, RIFs and RRSPs, which have named beneficiaries and are not subject to probate.

A qualified professional should probably answer the question of whether probate is advisable, or possibly avoidable. A lawyer who practices estate law in British Columbia will have the knowledge and insight needed to advise on this and other aspects of probate. Any person named executor of an estate may find comfort in knowing help is available.

Source: Financial Post, “To probate or not to probate”, Leanne Kaufman, Accessed on April 14, 2017