Frequently Asked Questions

What is Probate?

Probate is the formal process of proving a Will whereby a court validates the Will of the deceased and grants the executor the power to deal with the deceased’s estate.

What is the difference between probate and estate administration?

When a person dies with a Will (testate), the named executor or executors of the Will apply to court for a Grant of Probate to manage and distribute the deceased’s estate (assets and liabilities) in accordance with the Will and the deceased’s wishes.

When a person dies without a Will (intestate), an administrator must be appointed to settle the affairs of the deceased. Usually, a close relative or friend will apply to court for a grant of administration. Once appointed, the administrator will administer the estate of the deceased in accordance with the laws of intestacy as stated in the Wills, Estates and Succession Act of British Columbia.

How long does it take to settle an Estate?

In British Columbia, the personal representative of an estate is generally allowed one full year from the grant of probate or grant of administration to gather the assets of the estate and settle its affairs. This is commonly known as the Executor’s Year.  Estates with complex assets or disputes can take longer to settle. Matters that may need to be considered before an estate can be settled include:

• the number of accounts the deceased held in different financial institutions

• the type and complexity of property to be appraised and distributed

• assets held outside of British Columbia

• beneficiaries outside of Canada

• family or beneficiary complications

A waiting period will need to lapse before the distribution of the estate’s assets to allow for interested parties to bring forward any claims they may have. The personal representative of the estate will also want to ensure that they don’t face any further liabilities and will in most cases seek to obtain tax clearance certificates from the Canada Revenue Agency for the deceased and the estate prior to any distribution.