Probate - What You Need To Know!

Probate - What You Need To Know!

Probate is the formal administration of an estate through a Court process.  Here is what you need to know about it. 

First of all, not every estate has to be probated.  It really depends upon what assets are in question and who owned them.  Joint assets typically are not probated.  I say “typically” because every rule has an exception!  For example, if the estate is comprised of personal possessions and jointly owned assets, the personal representative to the estate can provide notice to the holder of the joint assets (land titles office, banks, insurance companies, etc.) of the death of one party resulting in that person’s name being removed from title and leaving the title solely owned by the survivor.  In this case, a probate would not be required. 

The exception applies if a parent and child are joint owners.  Without further documentation to enforce the right of survivorship, the child owner can be deemed to be a trustee of the asset on behalf of a larger group of beneficiaries (for example, other children).  In this event a probate may still be required, despite the joint ownership of the asset. 

Assets with a beneficiary designation are not probated.  This would include life insurance, registered investments (RRSPs and RIFs), tax free savings accounts – provided that they have a properly named beneficiary.  If they don’t have one, or if the beneficiary designation is to the Estate, then a probate is required. 

Assets under a certain value do not necessarily need a probate.  If you are dealing with a small estate with a relatively small amount in a bank account, you can petition the bank to release the money on a letter of indemnity, rather than conduct a full probate. Each bank has their own rules on what they will allow to be administered in this way and what they won’t.

Have specific questions regarding probate and your estate, please contact our office to schedule your complimentary meeting today.

Rolland C. Lequier, Barrister & Solicitor

Contact me at 403-264-0036 or by email at