Your Lawyer and the Probate Certificate
When an individual passes away, there are a number of questions that arise. A few of these include:
- is there a will?
- what are the assets?
- who are the beneficiaries?
- are there any legacies?
- who is listed as the executor?
- is the executor able and willing to act according to his or her duties?
- can there be a challenge to the contents of the will?
In the event that there is no will (situation known as an intestacy), there are rules that apply which dictate who may be appointed as the personal representative for the deceased individual.
Whether there is a will (testate estate) or no will (intestacy), the executor or personal representative involved will require guidance with respect to their underlying duties. Among other things, the role involves:
- gathering the estate assets
- determining value of the estate assets
- make inventory of the property of the estate
- deal with beneficiaries and family members
- deal with cards and subscription services
- look after the property
- protect the assets and obtain insurance, if needed
- obtain probate (certificate of appointment of estate trustee in Ontario), if needed
- advertise for creditors
- obtain tax clearances
- file taxes
- facilitate administration of ongoing trusts
- and much more…
As lawyers, we will help with this administration and guide the executor or personal representative in completing their role and avoiding personal liability. Further, the deceased may have certain assets that cannot be released or removed without obtaining a certificate of appointment of estate trustee (formerly known as “probate certificate”).
Probate is a process by which one may apply as the executor (if there’s a will) or a personal representative (if no will) to the courts to confirm the validity of the will (if applicable) and the individual’s appointment. Without this confirmation, various entities (banks, land registry offices) may not release money or assets as they may be concerned that the will was not a true last will or may have been signed under duress. Upon confirmation of the probate certificate, these entities and other individuals essentially receive assurance of the validity and appointment which in turn, allows the estate to be administered.
We often guide executors, personal representatives in these matters and assist with completing the court process to obtain probate.
Should you have legal questions about the probate process or pricing of obtaining probate, give our office a call !