Rob Culos of Culos & Co. offers excellent services in estate planning and estate administration that will save you time, money, and hassle in the long run.

Wills? Probate? 5 common questions answered

When someone dies, closing the estate requires specific steps: here’s what you need to know

Whether you’re considering your own Will or have been asked to serve as Executor for someone else’s estate, you may have questions about the process. You’re not alone. Here, Vernon lawyer Robert Culos shares 5 common questions people gave around Wills and Probate.

1. What is Probate?

When someone dies, Probate refers to the process of proving the validity of a Will. This process culminates in Letters Probate being granted by the Supreme Court of British Columbia and allowing the Executor to disperse the estate as directed in the Will.

2. What happens if there is no will?

“When someone dies without a will, nobody is named as Executor; the person who becomes responsible for the estate is called the Administrator, although both roles are referred to as ‘Personal Representatives,’” explains Culos, from Culos & Co. Law.

RELATED READING: Estate planning now can save family stress and expense later

3. Then why do I need a will?

First, it often takes longer for the Court to issue Letters of Administration than Letters Probate, both called an “Estate Grant.”

Further, some of the essential initial tasks following a death are much easier for an Executor who can present a copy of the Will to those such as the funeral director, a banker or a property manager, Culos notes.

Beyond those initial tasks, in British Columbia, some assets owned by the deceased can also only be transferred to heirs if the Executor or Administrator has obtained an Estate Grant.

4. Is it possible to transfer assets without an Estate Grant?

If the deceased owned real estate jointly with another person, the surviving joint tenant will receive the deceased’s share without an Estate Grant.

Also, some other assets can be transferred directly to a named beneficiary without an Estate Grant, such as Life Insurance, RRSPs, TFSAs, RRIFs and Segregated Funds.

5. What’s required to make an application for an Estate Grant?

First, the applicant must give notice to:

  • the beneficiaries named in the Will;
  • spouses and children, who have the right to ask the Court to vary the Will by giving them a larger share;
  • any family member who would be an heir if there were no Will.

Second, the Applicant must also give evidence regarding:

  • the Deceased and his or her family members;
  • the Will (or their unsuccessful search for one);
  • the Deceased’s assets that pass to the estate.

How long does it take to receive the Estate Grant? We’ll look at that in the next article, when Culos will review best practices for the application, and issues that can delay the Estate Grant.

It is important to note that during the current COVID-19 crisis, the time needed for the entire process is understandably taking longer, he notes.

To learn more about estate planning, contact Culos & Co. Law at 250-549-7168 in Vernon, or 250-546-2448 in Armstrong, or visit online.

RELATED READING: The risks of signing a homemade Will

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