Probate is the process by which your will is legally approved by the courts. Not all wills have to be probated. Whether you probate a will depends on various factors such as the complexity of the estate, the amount and nature of the assets and the number and nature of the beneficiaries.
It has been our experience that most estates by circumstance or chance end up going through the probate process. There is also another reality that encourages people to seek probate and that is that banks and other institutions, regulatory or government, do on occasion refuse to recognize an executor’s authority unless the will is validated by a court.
The assets of your estate that are passed on through your will and thus go through the probate process are subject to probate fees. You can minimize the amount of probate tax payable on your death by legally removing assets that would otherwise fall into your estate. One of the objectives of an estate plan is to keep taxes and expenses as low as possible and to pay as much as possible to your beneficiaries.
Our team is well placed to assist you identify which assets are best left in your estate and which are best moved out of your estate before death to accommodate your overall estate planning objectives.
For example, it may be possible to significantly reduce probate fees by having 2 wills, one dealing with a specific asset such as a business or recreational property (a cottage) and the second dealing with everything else.