A guide to the probate process


If someone close to you has passed away and you’ve been granted executorship of their estate, or even if you’re interested in purchasing a home that is subject to probate, it’s important to understand how probate works.

What is probate?

Simply put, probate is the legal process that validates a will. Once validated, the executor named in the will is then granted the authority to manage the deceased’s assets.

What is an executor?

As the person entrusted to gather and secure assets, the executor is responsible for distributing them according to the instructions outlined in the will. In other words, the executor is in charge of executing the will. 

What is the process?

To begin the process, the executor must apply to the court for a Grant of Probate, which certifies that the deceased’s will is valid. Once approved, the court will notify the executor of the probate fees that are payable to the Provincial Government by the deceased’s estate. Generally, the fees are about 1.4% of the total value of assets outlined in the will. After the fees are paid, the Grant of Probate is issued and the executor may now begin dealing with the deceased’s assets.

Quite frankly, the process can be lengthy, complicated, and given the circumstances, emotionally difficult to navigate. In Vancouver, it can take between 4-6 months to obtain probate. However, depending on the complexity of the estate and will, the entire process can often take well over a year to complete.

So, what happens when a property is also left behind?

Technically, the executor can choose to list the home immediately. However, the title cannot be transferred to the buyer until the will is probated. For this reason, the executor must have a subject to probate being finalized in order to protect themselves and the estate when listing the home.

Alternatively, if the executor lists the home after probate is completed, then the sale is handled as per usual, without any delays.

Navigating death isn’t an easy thing to do. When legal matters are thrown into the mix, it can become even harder. To help ease the burden of being an executor, it can be helpful to work with a realtor who has experience in probate real estate. Not only will they be able to help you understand the process a bit better, but they can also help alleviate some of the stress associated with the process. Questions about buying or listing a home under probate? We can help. Give us a call today.

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