Probate and Estate Administration / Probate and Estate Administration

Probate and Estate Administration: The passing of a loved one can be a very distressing and confusing time for family and friends. The difficulties faced seem to be compounded for those charged with the responsibility of dealing with an estate.

Obtaining a Grant

A grant is obtained by making an application to the BC Supreme Court. This process is undertaken by completing the courts requirements and by filing a number of forms and documents.

Unlike other jurisdictions, there is no estate tax in British Columbia, but when the BC Supreme Court grants Letters Probate or Letters of Administration, the government still collects an amount based on the reported inventory of estate assets provided by the applicant. The amount collected is called a “probate fee”.The concern for most individuals is not the difficulty of obtaining a grant, but the cost of the submission. Probate fees are based on the value of the assets of the estate. For example, in BC, it would cost an estate of $1,000,000 close to $13,500 in probate fees, not including the filing or legal costs of the application.On a practical level, a Probate or a Letters of Administration application may be necessary where an institution is holding assets in the name of the deceased and insists on seeing a grant before releasing the assets to the Executor or an individual attempting to finalize the estate. As well, if the estate holds any real property, the Land Title Office will require a grant to be obtained.

Overview of the Process of Dealing with an Estate

The administration can be broken down into three main parts, namely gathering in the assets, payment of the debts and taxes, and distribution of the surplus to the beneficiaries.

  1. The first part involves gathering funds sufficient to cover the debts and taxes of the deceased and to ensure that the estate can be distributed appropriately. During this stage, all accounts held in financial institutions will be closed and some assets may be sold.
  2. During the second part, the executor arranges the payment of the debts and taxes of the deceased. A tax return for the deceased and for the estate may be required as part of this stage.
  3. The third part involves distributing the surplus assets to the beneficiaries under the Will or in accordance with the British Columbia Estate Administration Act. The distribution can take the form of a transfer of a physical asset (such as a house or motor vehicle) or payment of money or both.
Tasks and Duties in Administration

Settling an estate is a complicated undertaking. If you are named Executor of an estate or choose to seek an appointment as Administrator, you can face responsibilities that demand a great deal of time, energy and attention to detail. It is important to note that if you have been appointed as the Executor and can’t or don’t want to perform any of the required estate administration, you can decline to act before you perform any duties. Alternatively, if you do not want to perform all of the duties and/or require support regarding the steps involved in the estate-settling process, we would be pleased to speak with you regarding how we can assist in administering and finalizing the estate.