Any one that has experienced a personal loss understands how profoundly it can affect you. Our clients often speak of a “fog” of sadness, confusion and concern both for the immediate desire to see that their loved one is properly attended to but also for the looming legal hassle.
“Probate” is the legal term that is used to describe the review and approval process administered by The Supreme Court of British Columbia that gives your named representative in your will (called an Executor) the authority to act. The court, through the process of probate, establishes the following regarding the will of a deceased loved one:
- That the will is the deceased’s most recent will;
- That it is valid, having been properly written, signed and witnessed;
- Which of your personal assets are to be subject to the terms of your will;
- Who your executor is; and
- That legal notice has been given to all those who are entitled to it.
Without probate your executor is largely unable to do anything. Imagine your executor contacting banks or your pension plan provider, asking them to hand over your money. Obviously, those institutions would want proof that you had died, that the will is valid, that the executor is the person named in your will and that they won’t be sued if the will is contested. Under British Columbia Law for your executor to begin dealing with your assets upon your death they must first apply to the Court for a Representation Grant of Probate that provides authority to your executor(s) to wind up the affairs of the deceased. The application process is a maze of required forms, official searches and legal jargon which overwhelm the most sophisticated people. The process often takes weeks, if not months to navigate and, once approved, requires the estate to pay a provincial tax of 1.4% of the estate’s value (probate fees).
For 25 years we have been assisting families in navigating the legal maze as quickly and cost effectively as possible regardless of the complexity of the estate. While we bring considerable legal expertise to this task we have always viewed our main job as reducing the stress and anxiety for your executor and family and doing our utmost to reduce or eliminate entirely any family differences that can become expensive, time consuming, legal disputes.