FAQs about the Probate Process in Alberta

West Legal breaks down the process of obtaining holograph will

Alberta Probate Process Explained [2020 Update]

What is a Grant of Probate in Alberta?

A grant of probate is a document signed by a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, that confirms the validity of a deceased’s last Will and affirms the Executor’s authority to distribute the deceased’s assets pursuant to that Will. The grant allows the personal representative to legally fulfill their duties as the administrator of the estate.

How long does Probate take in Alberta? Read our post here

What does it mean to probate a will?

When people refer to probate or probating a will, they are likely referring to obtaining a “grant of probate”. A grant of probate is obtained by the personal representative, or executor, of the estate upon application to the Surrogate Office of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta.

When do I need to go through Probate?

There is no hard-and-fast rule that determines when obtaining a grant of probate is necessary. However, a general rule of thumb is that, if you pass away leaving assets in your sole name and without a named beneficiary, your Executor will likely need to obtain a grant of probate in order to distribute your assets, regardless of whether you died leaving a Will. If you pass away without a Will, a grant of administration is nearly always required, and the application for such a grant is typically more complex than a probate application. Read more about when Probate is necessary in Alberta here.

Do I really need a Will? Read our post here

Do I have to obtain a Grant of Probate in Alberta?

While a grant of probate is often required to administer a deceased’s estate, it is not always necessary. Simple estates, estates with minimal assets and estates where all assets are held with a surviving spouse in joint names may not require probate. The estate lawyers at West Legal will provide you with an honest assessment of whether or not you can avoid probate and the associated legal costs.

Read our Wills FAQs page here

How do you avoid paying probate in Alberta?

We typically address the topic of “probate” during our estate planning consultations. Clients often have questions about the probate process, and rightfully so. Nevertheless, many commonly held beliefs about probate are half-truths or even untrue altogether. The probate process is not nearly as time-consuming or cost-involved as people often assume. As such, the Estate Planning Lawyers at West Legal don’t believe in avoiding probate at all costs. What we do believe in, is careful and creative planning so that your estate can avoid probate in circumstances where the downsides to avoiding probate are limited. For example, the benefits of adding an adult child to the title of your home in hopes of avoiding probate may be outweighed by the risk of claims against your property from a divorce or lawsuit against your adult child. The estate lawyers at West Legal will provide you with an honest assessment of whether or not it’s best to take steps to avoid probate and the associated risks and expenses of doing the same.

Signing an Enduring Power of Attorney

I Live in Calgary, but the Deceased Lived Elsewhere. Now What?

We often receive calls from individuals who live in Calgary and have been appointed as the Executor of a parent’s Estate. However, in some cases, the Executor’s parent has passed away in a different province. It’s sensible for you to reach out to us or another Calgary probate lawyer, even if your loved one passed away out-of-province.

In what circumstances will I need to go through probate?

Without a complete picture of the estate in question, it’s impossible to provide a definitive answer as to whether probate will be required. However, there are circumstances where probate will almost always be required. Those circumstances include estates where there is no surviving spouse as a joint tenant, where assets are in the name of the deceased only, where the estate has significant asset value, where there is no will and where the will is of dubious validity.

What is the difference between a grant of probate and a grant of administration?

Typically, a grant of probate is obtained for estates where a valid will exists that appoints a willing and able personal representative. Where no will exists, or there is a will but the appointed personal representative is deceased, unable or unwilling to act, a person wishing to administer the estate may apply for a grant of administration.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for a grant of probate or a grant of administration?

While you don’t have to retain a lawyer’s services when applying for a grant of probate or a grant of administration, it is highly recommended. You may find yourself unsure of which grant to apply for or whether you need to apply at all and an estates lawyer will guide you towards the best option. The probate process requires extensive paperwork which is often confusing. Estate lawyers work with probate documents regularly and are able to ensure the application proceeds smoothly.


Contact a Calgary Wills Lawyer today

wills@west-legal.ca or 403-723-0175 to get started.

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