Dealing with a loved one’s estate in British Columbia involves navigating the probate process, a legal procedure overseen by the Supreme Court. Probate confirms the validity of a will and grants authority to the executor. Probate and wills lawyers play a crucial role in simplifying this process. This article centers on the probate application process, and not the bigger picture estate administration process, which can take between one and two years.
Find the last will:
Before even thinking about an application for probate, the executor has to be sure the will they have is the very last will of the deceased. They search through all reasonable places that a person would keep a will, including personal papers, safety deposit boxes and electronic devices. The probate lawyer conducts a wills notice search with Vital Statistics. The results of this search confirm when the last will was registered. It’s an optional registry, so not all wills are registered there. If the executor gets a result of a will that was dated before the will they are probating, it’s fine. If, on the other hand, the results show a will that was dated before the will they are probating, this is a big problem that has to be addressed.
Form P1 Notice
The court application itself starts with giving all the beneficiaries named in the will and all of the deceased’s next of kin a notice document and a copy of the will. The executor has to wait a minimum of 21 days after giving this written notice before they can submit a probate application to court.
Statement of Assets
In the meantime, the executor and probate lawyer compile a list of all the assets of the deceased. Although the title of this document is called the statement of assets and liabilities, only liabilities that encumber assets, like mortgages or car loans, are listed. Crucially, this document list asset values as they were on the date of death. These values are often used later in the process by accountants and the Canada Revenue Agency.
Preparing and submitting the probate application
The probate lawyer also draws up the other legal documents, including affidavits, used in the court application. There is a whole range of prescribed court documents for various circumstances. A seasoned probate lawyer will know which ones to use in which circumstances.
Once all the court documents are drafted, the executors signs them with the estate lawyer, then the lawyer submits a package to court. This package includes all the relevant court forms, the will, and the wills notice search. Oddly enough, a death certificate is not required as one of these documents. The lawyer’s expertise ensures accurate preparation and submission of these documents.
What happens after the probate application is filed with court?
After submission, the package wait in line in the court registry. The delay in recent years in the Vancouver probate registry has varied greatly from two to fourteen weeks. Once it’s turn has come up though, the court reviews the application, and the probate lawyer addresses any concerns raised. The court then issues a probate fee assessment to the probate lawyer, say the amount of probate tax that is due. Once the fee is paid, the court issues the grant of probate to the executor.
What happens after probate is granted
After this, the estate lawyer may assist the executor in estate administration, managing tasks like debt settlement, tax payments, and asset distribution according to the will’s terms. Probate and wills lawyers are vital in handling disputes among beneficiaries and ensuring a fair and legal asset distribution.
Navigating the probate process in British Columbia can be challenging, but probate and wills lawyers simplify the journey. Their legal expertise ensures compliance with the province’s laws, expedites proceedings, and resolves disputes, ultimately facilitating a fair and legal distribution of assets. If you’re dealing with probate matters, enlisting a knowledgeable probate lawyer is crucial for a smoother process.