What is Probate?
As a Calgary Probate Lawyer, I often hear the word ‘probate’ used by our clients with a certain amount of dread and trepidation. While you may have heard horror stories, the probate process isn’t as time-consuming and cost-prohibitive as you may anticipate.
When someone passes away, typically the Estate’s Executor needs to obtain a ‘Grant of Probate’ or a ‘Grant of Administration’—the former when the deceased left a valid Will, and the latter if the deceased passed away without a Will. A Grant of Probate (or Administration) is the Court’s approval of the Executor’s authority to administer the Estate. Once issued, the Executor can take the Grant of Probate document to banks and other financial institutions in order to access the deceased’s assets and begin administering the deceased’s Estate.
Steps in the Probate Process
As part of the overall Estate Administration Process, the Probate Process involves a number of steps. At ZED Legal, we work with Estate Executors through each step of the Probate Process to ensure that they know what their legal obligations to the Estate are, and to help them obtain a Grant of Probate or Administration as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Some of the steps in the Probate Process include:
- The Executor must obtain a Death Certificate from the funeral home;
- The Executor must conduct a reasonable search for the deceased’s Will;
- The Executor must gather all relevant financial documentation for the deceased, including:
- Most recent bank/investment statements;
- Most recent income tax returns;
- Information regarding real estate owned by the deceased;
- Statements for utilities/home services; and
- Various other documentation.
- Your probate lawyer will review the Land Title Certificate for each real estate property owned by the deceased to determine whether there are any mortgages, co-ownership issues, or existing litigation certificates registered against the property.
- You will need to provide your Probate Lawyer with various biographical details about the deceased, the deceased’s spouse and former spouse(s), and the beneficiaries of the Estate.
- Your probate lawyer will prepare the Grant application package, which is typically 20–50 pages in length.
- Your probate lawyer will serve a copy of the application on the Estate’s residuary beneficiaries, and other 3rd parties who are legally entitled to receive it.
- The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench will review the Grant application and issue the Grant—this is typically the most time-consuming aspect of the process.
- Once the Grant is issued, your Probate Lawyer will work with you to prepare and send an initial release to each of the Estate’s beneficiaries. Typically, once each beneficiary has signed a release, the Executor can begin distributing the Estate.
Let’s Talk Timeline
Upon the Estate’s Executor providing us with all required documentation, we aim to prepare the Probate Application, sign it with you, and submit it to the Court within a 2-week period. Once the application is submitted to the Court, the Grant can take anywhere from 6 to 25 weeks to be issued, depending on how backlogged the Surrogate Court is at the time you apply for Probate.
Let’s Talk Cost
At ZED Legal, we offer Flat Rate Probate Law Fees so that you can make an informed decision when choosing a probate lawyer. When deciding on a probate lawyer, you may not yet have a full picture of the Estate’s assets, and even if you do, it can be confusing to calculate what the Estate’s legal fees might be. That’s why our probate legal fees are set at flat rates and based on wide ranges of Estate values, allowing you to easily estimate the Estate’s legal fees from the outset.
We also recognize that it can be difficult to pay the Estate’s legal fees up-front without having access to Estate funds—that’s why we accept a nominal up-front retainer of $650.00 on all Probate and Estate Administration files. This way, you’re not out-of-pocket for the entire legal fee while waiting for the Grant to be issued. Once the Grant is issued, you can settle the remainder of your legal bill.
Additionally, we believe in the importance of having a valid, up-to-date Will, which is why we offer a slightly lower legal fee for Probate Applications relative to Applications for Grants of Administration—when a deceased leaves behind a valid Will, it streamlines our legal processes, and accordingly, we’ve lowered our Probate fees.