If you were appointed the Executor of a deceased person, then you need to start the probate process.
It is recommended that you retain a probate lawyer for legal assistance, as there are many things to consider and lots of documentation and processes to cover. Although lawyers may cost more than doing the paperwork yourself, they will ensure that nothing is left out. The cost of the lawyer is often paid out of the Estate.
If you wish to apply for probate yourself, the steps are as follows:
- Get a copy of the current will;
- Search the Vital Statistics Agency for the most recent version of the will;
- Provide notice of the application for probate to all the beneficiaries and anyone entitled to make a claim under the Wills Variation Act, such as spouses and children
- Take inventory of all assets and their value
- Identify any outstanding debts
- Send an application to the Supreme Court of BC. The full set of probate forms is on the Ministry of Justice’s website.
- Pay the probate fee. If the value of the Estate is between $25,000 and $50,000, the fee is 0.6%. For values over $50,000, the fee is 1.4%. There are no fees if the value of the Estate is less than $25,000.
- Get the Grant of Letters Probate, which usually takes 4-6 months or more depending on number of assets and beneficiaries. It can take up to 2 years if the situation is more complicated.
- Pay all bills and taxes, distribute and sell assets, sell the Estate property according to the wishes of the will.
- Keep all beneficiaries informed throughout the process.