Our Probate Services
Stemp & Company is a Calgary law firm with over 40 years of experience in probate. Our professional probate lawyers ready to help in a difficult time for you and your family.
Being named an executor of an estate carries a number of responsibilities. Has a loved one passed without leaving a will behind? Is the will legally valid? Is the estate in debt? Dealing with these responsibilities during this time of loss is tough.
Fortunately, our probate lawyers are here to provide you with the guidance, legal advice and the legal services you need.
Our Calgary probate lawyers can:
- Help you apply for probate
- Provide advice related to estate planning
- Minimize taxes on your estate
- Maximize the gains on your estate
Our Probate Process
Our law office will ensure that the probate process goes as efficiently as possible. We are here to meet the needs of the family members and handle any request or legal obligations when it comes to the probate process. Whether you’re applying for a Grant of Probate, acting as an administrator of the estate, or estate planning, our estate lawyers make sure the distribution of the estate goes smoothly and minimizes any conflict.
What is Probate?
Probate is the judicial process where a will is proved valid by the court. When a loved one passes away, the deceased usually leaves behind a will detailing how they would like to handle their estate. Typically dealing with probate requires an expert family law team dedicated to probate applications and the probate process.
Dealing with the estate left behind requires a Grant of Probate issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench. A Grant of Probate is required to prove that the will is legally valid. If there is no will left behind, the court assigns an administrator of the estate and they are responsible to administer the deceased’s estate. If you are named an executor in someone’s will, you still may have to apply for probate.
The executor is responsible for dealing with the deceased’s estate. The estate includes everything the deceased had owned such as real estate, assets, life insurance policies, stocks, investments, etc.
However, this also means that the executor is responsible with any leftover debts, filing tax returns and any other legal issues. Hiring a probate lawyer makes the process for applying for a Grant of Probate a lot easier.
Why It’s Necessary?
Probate can be avoided if the estate is small or simple. This usually means having just a single beneficiary. However, most estates have complications which no matter how small, would require probating.
Fees for probate in Alberta, Canada are worth it to minimize risks and complications, compared to what could happen if you decide not to go through the probate process. Avoiding probate introduces a lot of risks, such as the court making claims against the estate. With probate, wills are ensured to be legally binding.
The Probate Application Process
Applying for probate typically takes time, averaging a few months to even a year. The process is complicated and the court must see that the will is valid. As a result, properties, bank accounts, life insurance payouts, investments, etc. aren’t accessible until probate is granted.
Speed up Access to the Estate
Fortunately, the process for applying for probate can be sped up with a personal representative or probate lawyer. Having an expert in probate law and the probate process will make the distribution of the estate assets much quicker.
Avoid Claims Against the Estate
An executor who may also have power of attorney has to deal with any claims against the estate or estate litigation. The claims against the estate may come from family members who feel left out, relatives, former spouses, creditors, dependents of the deceased, etc.
Avoid Rejection from the Court
Inaccurate documentation may lead to the rejection of a probate application. At this point the application must be resubmitted, and resubmitting the application for probate may delay the process by months.
Having a probate lawyer ensures that your application is ready and accurate to avoid rejection from the court.
When someone dies, any financial issues the deceased has had does not go away. Not everyone passes away debt free and that debt has to be handled.
Identify Potential Financial Problems
As an executor, you’re responsible for the deceased’s outstanding debts and expenses required in the probate and estate planning process. These debts and expenses could be unpaid income tax, estate taxes, outstanding loan payments, or funeral expenses.
If the value of the estate isn’t enough to cover these costs, the executor is liable for the remaining costs of the expenses and debts. Having a probate lawyer can help you properly handle any debts left over.
Dealing with Finances
Without a probate lawyer, there is a risk of overpaying or underpaying any outstanding payments. Probate lawyers will help with notifying creditors of the deceased and are able to provide death certificates and any other necessary legal documents.
Dealing with the deceased’s finances isn’t something easy and is often overlooked, but having a probate lawyer helps you stay on track. Other benefits to obtaining probate services from a law office include minimizing those debts and maximizing the estate.
Problems that can Happen During the Probate Process
The probate process isn’t an easy process and unfortunately, many problems may arise during.
Having inaccurate information or missing information may result in your probate application being rejected and delay the process of obtaining the deceased’s estate. Another problem that may arise is that the will may leave partial intestacy.
Beneficiary issues may also cause issues to the probate process. There may be unnamed family members in the will, lost relatives or former spouses that may want to fight for access to the estate. Another possible problem is that a beneficiary named in the will may not be able to be located.
Creditors of the deceased also may want to access the estate as a way to have the debt repaid. Having a probate lawyer can help eliminate or reduce these potential problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Reduce my Probate Fees?
Your probate fees are determined by the size of the estate. For example, if you have a life insurance policy with your estate as the beneficiary, it becomes part of your estate and is subject to probate fees.
How Long does Probate take?
Probate usually takes around 3 months to reach the courts, and the process can take up to a year. If there is a change to the Will, the process becomes longer.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Probate?
You do not need a lawyer. However, there is a lot of paperwork to get through, and a lawyer can speed up the process and help maximize your estate.
How Do You Probate a Will?
First, you must obtain a Probate package (Surrogate Rules Package) and it can be purchased from Alberta Queen’s Printer. It is required for litigation and the processing of any will/estate.
Should I Take on the Executor Role?
It’s possible, but there is a lot of responsibility and work that goes into representing the estate. There are issues to consider too. There are fees, taxes and possible debt that belongs to the estate, and if those aren’t handled, you could be personally liable. It’s the role of the executor to pay off the debts of the estate.
Not only is the process complicated and hard, but it is also extremely time-consuming and requires expertise. It would be a lot easier and in the long run more cost-effective if you have a probate lawyer handle these things.
I’ve Been Appointed Executor. Now What?
If you have been appointed the executor of the will, you can renounce to the court. From there, it becomes a family decision to decide who will take on the executor role. Usually, it is easier when a corporation or another individual takes on the role to avoid conflict within the family.
I’m the Beneficiary. Now What?
As the beneficiary, you have the right to know what the executor’s duties are and updates on the process. The executor must notify all beneficiaries named in the will and those interested in the estate when they have applied for a Grant of Probate. From there, once the estate has been distributed, the executor must start the accounting process for the beneficiaries.
What if You Die Without a Will?
The hierarchy of who will get the estate usually is spouse first, kids second, then parents last. The court will determine who gets the estate but there are many scenarios which make things complicated. For example, if you had 3 kids but divorced your spouse, remarried and had another kid with your second spouse, 50% of the estate would go to your second spouse, and 50% would be split among the 3 kids of your previous spouse. Most of the time, your child with the second spouse won’t receive anything as it goes to your spouse.
There are multiple scenarios where you could have multiple children with multiple spouses, or have a number of marriages, etc.. which makes things complicated if you die without a will.