Selling a property after a family member has passed away is a delicate process. There are various parties involved such as family members, probate lawyers, and the Executor to name a few. Having a Real Estate agent who is experienced in selling Estate residential property and that understands the intricacies of this process is key in reducing the stress during this difficult time. John and Veronica Patricelli are here to help.
What is An Estate?
An Estate is everything of value that an individual owns such as property, securities, cash, vehicles, jewelry, and other assets. In real estate, the will of the deceased will show who will inherit the property.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process that verifies the authenticity of a deceased person’s will. It also validates the Executor for the deceased. The Executor is the person who can legally carry out the terms of the will. With respect to real estate, the Executor becomes the registered owner once the Grant of Probate has been obtained. The Executor can either sell the property or deal with the property according to the wishes outlined in the will.
Selling A Home Subject To Probate
Because the probate process may take some time, the Executor may wish to put an Estate property up for sale while the probate documents are being processed in court. The property is then listed with the notation ‘subject to probate’. The transfer of ownership can only be registered with the Land Titles office once the probate is granted.
Buying A Home Subject To Probate
If you are putting an offer on a property that is ‘subject to probate’, you can ask the selling Real Estate Agent how far along his client is in the probate process. Then you can make the decision if you wish to wait or not since the actual date of completion is uncertain.
Does Every Will in BC Go Through Probate?
There are exceptions. When an entire estate is held jointly then the assets pass to the surviving holder of the estate. Traditionally joint estates are between husbands and wives where they jointly own a house or have joint bank accounts. If all the estate is jointly owned then probate can be avoided.
What Happens If There Is No Will?
If the deceased in BC does not have a Will, they are deemed as “intestate”. Their assets will be distributed according to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (the “Act”). Generally the assets will be distributed in the follow order of priority: spouse, children, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews.
What’s Not Included In The Value of The Estate?
Assets such as life insurance policies, RRSPs, and TSFAs, are not part of the value of the Estate so long as they have designated beneficiaries, and therefore do not pass through probate. The probate fees will not be calculated on such amounts.
Do Beneficiaries Pay Tax On Inheritance?
A beneficiary should receive their inheritance tax-free. However, the deceased person will have a final income tax return which may include capital gains taxes on some assets if it applies. The Executor will have to file the final income tax return.
10 Steps For Selling An Estate In BC

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:

  1. Get a copy of the current will;
  2. Search the Vital Statistics Agency for the most recent version of the will;
  3. 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
  4. Take inventory of all assets and their value
  5. Identify any outstanding debts
  6. Send an application to the Supreme Court of BC.  The full set of probate forms is on the Ministry of Justice’s website.  
  7. 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.
  8. 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. 
  9. Pay all bills and taxes, distribute and sell assets, sell the Estate property according to the wishes of the will.
  10. Keep all beneficiaries informed throughout the process.
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