Understanding Probate In Alberta

January 5, 2024

Understanding Probate In Alberta

When it comes to probating a will in Alberta, it is essential to navigate the legal process efficiently and effectively. We understand that this can be a complex and emotional time, but with the right guidance, you can successfully navigate the probate process.

In this comprehensive blog, we will walk you through the steps to probate a will in Alberta, ensuring that you have all the information you need to make this process as smooth as possible with the help of professional will and estate lawyers.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that confirms the validity of a will and grants the authority to the executor to manage the deceased’s estate. In Alberta, this process is governed by the Surrogate Rules under the Alberta Rules of Court. It involves verifying the authenticity of the will, collecting the deceased’s assets, settling debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.

Who Can Apply For Probate?

In Alberta, the following individuals can apply for probate:

  • The named executor in the will
  • If there is no named executor, a family member or close friend
  • A lawyer or legal representative

Let us delve into the key aspects:

1. Initiating The Probate Process

To begin the probate process, the executor, named in the deceased’s will, must file an application with the Court of King’s Bench. This application should include all relevant documents, such as the original will and an inventory of the deceased’s assets.

Key Steps

  • Identify The Executor: The executor is the person responsible for managing the estate. This individual is typically named in the will, but if not, the court will appoint one.
  • Original Will: The original will is a critical document for the probate process. It should be kept in a safe place, and a copy should be available for reference.

2. Valuing The Estate

The next step is to assess the total value of the estate. This includes all assets, such as real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings. It is highly recommended that you complete this step with the help of experienced wills lawyers.

Key Steps

  • Professional Appraisal: In some cases, assets may require a professional appraisal to determine their exact value.
  • Outstanding Debts: Outstanding debts of the deceased must be identified and paid from the estate’s assets.

Also Read: The Benefits of Hiring a Real Estate Lawyer for Property Transactions

3. Paying Estate Taxes

Estate taxes, including federal and provincial taxes, must be settled. In Alberta, there is no provincial estate tax, but federal taxes may apply, so you will need a lawyer by your side to determine any applicable taxes.

Key Steps

  • Tax Returns: Complete and file the deceased’s final tax return, along with any estate tax returns that may be required.

4. Distributing The Estate

Once all debts and taxes are settled, the remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries as outlined in the will.

Key Steps

  • Beneficiary Notifications: Notify beneficiaries of their entitlement and distribute assets accordingly.
  • Executor’s Fee: The executor is entitled to a reasonable fee for their services, as defined by Alberta law.

5. Probate Court Approval

Before the estate can be distributed, the court must approve the executor’s actions and confirm that all legal requirements have been met.

Key Steps

  • Court Hearing: The court will schedule a hearing to review the probate application and any concerns raised by interested parties.
  • Court Order: Once approved, the court will issue a probate order, allowing the executor to proceed with distribution.

When Is Probate Necessary In Alberta?

In Alberta, probate is usually required when someone passes away, and they own assets in their name alone. Here are some simple cues to know when probate is necessary:

  • Estate Value: If the person who passed had a lot of valuable assets, probate is likely needed. This is because banks and other organizations may ask for a special legal document called a Grant of Probate before they hand over the assets to the person in charge, called the executor.
  • Real Estate Ownership: If the person who passed away owned real estate alone or with others as tenants in common, you would generally need probate. This is because the Land Titles Office needs this legal document to move the property to the beneficiaries or the person in charge of the estate.
  • Money In The Bank: Banks and financial institutions might ask for probate if the person who passed had a lot of money in their accounts or investments. Each bank has its own rules, so the person in charge needs to check with them.

Lastly, if the person who passed away did not leave a valid will (this is called dying intestate), you would usually need a different legal document called a grant of estate administration.

Moreover, keep in mind that some assets, like those held in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, assets with specific beneficiaries (like life insurance policies), or assets in a trust, can avoid probate and go directly to the people they are meant for.

Considering all of these complexities, it is highly recommended that you hire a lawyer that is experienced in this particular field of law to get guidance throughout the probate process.

About Us

Nexus Legal is a professional law firm based in Edmonton, Alberta. We have a team of experienced and qualified wills and estate planning lawyers in Edmonton to help you navigate the complexities of wills and probate process.

As experienced lawyers, we focus on open and transparent communication to offer customized solutions and help clients achieve the best possible outcomes. Contact us today to learn more about our legal expertise and services.

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