FAQs for Estate Administration

Q. What is probate and how does it compare to estate administration?

  • Probate is a fancy word meaning to “prove.”  In the case of wills, it refers to the court-based process used to establish the validity of a will, if one exists, and to appoint a particular person, called an “executor”, to administer the estate of the deceased.
  • Estate administration ranges from arranging the funeral, preparing the probate application, filing taxes, paying other debts, distributing the estate, and dozens of steps in between.

Q. How long does probate take in BC?

  • Probate is handled by the Supreme Court of BC.  The Vancouver Probate Registry currently takes roughly 4-6 weeks after receiving an application before it is approved. Other court registries have different delay times. 

Q. How long does the estate administration process take in BC?

Estates often take 8 – 24 months to finish up.  Much time is spent waiting for court processing times and tax clearance certificates.  Estates with complex assets or disputes can take much longer to administer.  Laschuk Law helps executors navigate the system in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Q. What is the probate fee in BC?

  • This is a fee charged by the court to approve a will, or in the case of an intestate’s estate, approve the administrator of the estate.  In BC, the fee is based on the value of all the assets passing through the estate. 
  • The basic fee normally payable to apply for the grant of probate is $200.00. In addition to the basic probate fee, the following fees are added on and payable to the government:
    • $6 for each $1,000 or part of $1,000 of the value of the estate over $25,000, up to $50,000, plus $14 for each $1,000 or part of $1,000 of the value of the estate over $50,000.
    • For example, an estate with assets having a value of $124,000 would lead to $1400 in probate fees.

Q. Do I need to get probate?

Executors often discover they need to obtain probate when someone has told them that they can’t deal with a particular asset until they do.  In BC, there are many circumstances where a grant of probate may be needed.  There is a good chance probate will be needed if the deceased person held:

  • real estate
  • a bank account
  • a car
  • stocks or other investments

A probate lawyer at Laschuk Law can help you determine if a grant of probate is required.

Q. What happens if I die without a will in BC?

If you die without a will in BC, you are said to die “intestate”.  Simply, after your debts are paid, all of the assets left over go to your closest living relatives.  A person, called the “administrator”, must step up to administer your estate.  Usually that is the deceased’s next-of-kin, such as a spouse or child.  Similar to what happens with a will, the administrator may have to go to court to obtain a “grant of administration”, which gives them the authority to deal with the estate.  

 Q. I am acting as executor of an estate, what do I do?

If you were appointed as the executor for an estate, Laschuk Law would be pleased to help you with estate administration.  Being an executor is not an easy job, and executors may claim a fee for acting. In addition, they can usually charge the estate for any legal fees they incur. 

 Q. When is probate needed?

The short answer is, probate is needed when an institution requires it. In other words, if a bank, company, or ICBC says that they will not transfer assets out of the name of a deceased person before they see the grant of probate, then probate is required. In BC, probate is always required when a deceased owns land in their own name.

Usually, when someone in BC dies with over about $30,000 in their own name, the executor of their Will needs to obtain probate.

Q. Can an executor charge a fee for acting?

Executors face a great deal of work. Many will-makers are aware of this and provide compensation for their executors in their will. Even when the will is silent about compensation, the law allows executors to claim “a fair and reasonable” fee of up to 5% of the total value of the estate. Beneficiaries are usually asked to sign off that the amount claimed is fine with them, otherwise, a judge is asked to approve the fee. Executors are also entitled to be reimbursed for reasonable expenses, so they are not out-of-pocket.

Q. What happens when an executor cannot act?

When no Executor is available to act, any person that has an interest in the estate can apply to be appointed the “administrator” of the estate. The law has a list of preferred candidates, in order of priority, that the court will consider when appointing an administrator. We can guide you through the process of becoming an administrator.

Q. Can I do probate myself?

Yes. Anyone who is an executor of an estate can apply for probate themselves. The problem is that the duties of an executor are many and often onerous. An executor must worry about organizing the funeral, filing taxes, dealing with personal effects, paying bills, notifying banks, just to name a few things. The last thing most executors want to worry about is preparing finicky court forms and affidavits on top of an already sizable job. There is also the prospect of personal liability to an executor who makes a mistake in dealing with the estate. Laschuk Law can help minimize those risks and do the heavy lifting for you. By assisting with everything from applying for probate to transferring assets to settling the executor’s accounts, we make your life easier. 

Q. How do you probate a will yourself?

All the forms needed for the probate application are readily available. However, getting the forms is not the problem. The problem comes when executors try to figure out which forms to use and how to fill them out. The Court is extremely picky with how the forms are filled out, and they often send applications back to executors to fix.  At Laschuk Law, we can help you complete the forms properly.

Q. Do you have to go through probate if there is a will?

With a will or without a will, probate may be required. Whether a grant of probate is required depends on the assets in the estate, and whether the institution responsible for those assets demands probate before allowing the executor to deal with those assets. Some assets like real estate, always require probate.  Generally, banks will not release accounts worth over about $30,000 without a grant of probate. 

Q. What happens if a person dies without leaving a Will?

When someone dies without a valid Will, they are said to have died “intestate.” In such cases, the Probate Court must appoint someone to act as administrator of the estate (rather than the executor). The Court makes this appointment when someone qualified to act in this capacity makes an application to the Court. Usually this would be a member of the family, or if there is none, a close friend of the deceased.

The appointment as administrator over the estate is known as a grant of “Letters of Administration.”

Q. How much does Laschuk Law charge for Probating an Estate?

The cost of probating an estate or doing estate administration work is based on the lawyer’s hourly rate. Some tasks are more cost-effectively handled by Laschuk Law staff at a lower hourly rate. Call us for details.