What exactly is probate?
‘Getting probate’ is actually the process of legally establishing the validity of a Will. In other words, the Court is asked to confirm that the Will before the Court is the Last Will of the deceased and to confirm the appointment of an executor (now officially called an estate trustee). When an executor ‘gets’ probate, what they are actually getting is a certificate issued by the Court called a Certificate of Estate Trustee with a Will. This is the authority that an executor or estate trustee needs to administer the deceased’s estate.
If the deceased did not leave a Will, someone must apply to Court for a Certificate of Estate Trustee without a Will (instead of ‘with a Will’). In this case, the process is to have the Court confirm the appointment of an Estate Trustee without a Will. The estate is distributed according to Ontario’s intestacy laws. Dying intestate means dying without a Will.
Now that I have the Certificate of Estate Trustee, what should I do first?
If you are acting as the estate trustee and have received a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee from the Court, one of the very first things you should do is pay yourself back for any estate expenses that you paid for out of your own funds. Although we discourage executors from paying for things on behalf of the estate out of their own pocket, sometimes this can’t be avoided. If you did, now is the time to pay yourself back.
You may also be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses such as parking, mileage, and so forth, if such expenses were incurred as a result of carrying out your duties as estate trustee and provided that you document these expenses.
Next, notify banks and financial institutions and provide them with a notarial copy of the Certificate. Now that you are the legal representative of the estate, you can contact all parties involved in the estate and proceed with the estate administration.
The next step will be to turn your attention to the Estate Information Return (EIR) as it must be filed within 90 days of the court issuing a Certificate of Estate Trustee. I will explore this important step in more detail in my next blog.
Have you been appointed as an executor or estate trustee and are not sure whether you need probate or a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee? Do you have the Certificate but do not know what to do next? Call 613.836.9915 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment to meet with me. We will review the particulars of the estate and your duties and responsibilities as an executor or estate trustee to ensure the job goes as smoothly as possible.
Reproduction of this blog is permitted if the author is credited. If you have questions or if you would like more information, please call us at 613 836-9915. This blog is not intended to be legal advice but contains general information. Please consult a lawyer or other professional to determine how the information in this blog might apply to you.
Blog posts pre-dated December 1, 2015 were originally published under Neff Law Office Professional Corporation.