Probate. A word many come to know only because a loved one has passed on.

If you find yourself grappling with what probate is all about, we must start by offering our condolences. It's a tough time. Our aim is to make it a little less so.

Probate is the process used in Ontario to begin the formal process of transferring assets from the deceased to their beneficiaries.

Whether or not the deceased has a Will, probate means someone (or more than one person) must be appointed by an Ontario court to take control of assets and distribute them legally.

Why is Probate Important?
Probate is important for many reasons. Two of those reasons are set out below.

One is that it may be difficult or impossible to deal with some assets - for example selling a house or accessing bank account details - without probate.

The other is that probate represents an opportunity for the Ontario government to tax the estate. For many loved ones, this tax can be an early shock since it has to be paid before a court would even entertain the probate application. So, having cash on hand, through the estate or by way of a loan from a beneficiary, becomes important.
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Does Every Estate Require Probate?
First, the word "estate" refers to the assets left behind by the deceased.

Most estates require probate, but not every.

A small estate, consisting perhaps of a low-dollar-value bank account and a single vehicle, may be transferred to beneficiaries without the need for probate.

Also, a planned estate may sidestep probate if all of the assets in the estate are held in a corporation. Sidestepping probate in this manner - which is by no means easy or straightforward for the average person - means that the provincial probate tax is also avoided. However, it does not mean that other taxes, such as the federal capital gains tax, are avoided.

Is There An Ideal Way To Do Probate?
Yes, there is.

Probate is best done with all persons affected agreeing ahead of time about who will take control of the assets and distribute them, in addition to any other matters.

Agreeing ahead of time saves both time and money. There is no conflict delaying the distribution of assets and reducing the value of the estate (or the value of the assets of the beneficiaries themselves) through large legal fees.

Do You Do Probate?
Yes, we do probate.

We only do it the ideal way.

If all persons affected are not prepared to "sign on the dotted line" saying they agree with an approach, then probate for that estate is not an ideal match for the legal services we offer.

Thinking of doing probate the ideal way? Click on the button below to get started:
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