Why Probate is not a Dirty Word
While assisting clients with planning their estate, I often hear from clients that they want to avoid Probate at all costs. They tell that they are worried about the delay and significant expense.
A Grant of Probate is an application made to the Surrogate Division of the Court of Queen’s Bench that seeks to have:
- the court confirm that the Will as presented is the proper last will; and
- that the executor applying is the person with the proper authority to do so.
If there is no will then this application is technically called a Grant of Administration, but it is substantially the same. Fortunately, at least for estates located in Alberta, the fears of significant delay and expense are unfounded. Other provinces, like British Columbia, and certainly the United States, have fees or taxes that are calculated based on a percentage of the estate. Alberta does not. The court here charges a maximum of $550.00 to apply for probate, and often less for smaller estates.
For many estates, the total cost of probate, including filing fees, will be relatively small while the Grant of Probate will come with many advantages. The most significant advantage is that when an executor obtains a Grant of Probate, and they follow all of the steps prescribed in the Surrogate rules, then the executor can avoid personal liability, or even possibly claims against the estate. If an executor does not obtain a Grant of Probate, they may be leaving the estate, and therefore themselves, open to claims from creditors and others for many years after the deceased has died.
Obtaining a grant of probate also provides a simple legal framework for dealing with any beneficiaries of the estate. This can be particularly useful if one or more beneficiaries are unhappy with the administration of the estate or are looking to cause trouble.
Main Street Law LLP would be pleased to assist you in obtaining the Grant of Probate or Administration, but please keep in mind that obtaining the grant is only half the work required. Once the grant is obtained and the executor confirmed, executors must then go about the business of resolving the estate. It is at this point that the simple legal framework that Probate establishes can help keep the executor free from liability. The skilled and knowledgeable lawyers at Main Street Law LLP can help with the resolution of the estate by making sure all of the rules are followed so that the executor is not legally responsible if something should go wrong. Main Street Law LLP also takes a proactive approach to settling estates. We work diligently to eliminate or minimize any potential problems before they become big problems so that the estate can be resolved as soon as possible. The courts have recognized that a lawyer is a legitimate expense for an executor and so a lawyer’s fees, including any legal fees to obtain a Grant of Probate, will almost always be paid by the estate.
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