Probate without a Will
Most people believe their estate will be quickly and efficiently distributed to beneficiaries when they die, without any complications or expense. They rely on life insurance policies and investments to protect their loved ones financially and may put off making that all-too-important Will until it's too late.
You'd be surprised how many Ontarians don't have personal Wills or have improperly prepared, handwritten Wills that are legally invalid when they pass on. The chances a fake Will may be produced or personal possessions may be taken by family members before they can be inventoried go way up if estate documents don't exist or can't be found.
If you're a spouse, partner or family member trying to figure out can you probate a Will without a lawyer, Axess Law's Ontario probate lawyers are happy to help.
What Happens During Probate in Ontario
Probate allows you to act as personal representative or executor (also called estate trustee) for an Ontario resident. You receive a probate certificate or what's called a certificate of appointment of estate trustee without a Will. The certificate reassures banks, investment agencies and creditors that you are authorized by the court to access the deceased's accounts, pay their taxes and settle their debts. Without a probate certificate, the family can be left without the assets they need to pay their bills, sell property or receive inheritances they expected to get.
Is There Probate Without a Will?
Probate applies to all kinds of estates, with or without a personal Will. When a friend or loved one dies intestate without a Will, their real property and personal possessions are distributed to specific beneficiaries, regardless of what their last wishes may have been.
Unless next-of-kin or a friend step forward to apply for probate, the Ontario Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) will be appointed by the court to ensure the estate is legally distributed to spouses, minor children and dependants. The estate is managed according to provincial intestate rules.
If the deceased had no spouse or children and no common law partner to make a financial claim against their estate, the proceeds may be distributed to more distant next-of-kin, in order of priority.
How Does Probate Work Without a Will
How long probate takes in Ontario without a Will depends on the size of the estate and whether an eligible spouse or next-of-kin applies to be executor or the OPGT is appointed.
Probate can take weeks or months in smaller centres or months in the Greater Toronto Area. When court locations are physically closed to the public, having an Axess Law probate lawyer ensures probate documents are processed as quickly as possible.
We check that you have written consent from beneficiaries with a majority interest in the deceased's estate and others who are eligible to be estate trustee to act on the deceased's behalf.
Our licensed lawyers file applications for probate at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice office in the region where the deceased lived. If the deceased had minor children under 18 or mentally disabled dependants, we notify the Children's Lawyer of Ontario or for a spouse with dementia their guardian, attorney or the OPGT.
Why You Need a Probate Lawyer
We're often asked how to probate a Will without a lawyer. Why go to all that trouble, when Axess Law's flat rate legal fees give you the services of a professional probate lawyer without the bother of figuring out how to do it yourself. Errors preparing court forms can delay probate applications, further frustrating beneficiaries you want to trust you as executor.
Distributing an estate can get complicated, but knowing your loved one's estate was handled with care and not by a publicly appointed guardian can be comforting. Without a skilled probate lawyer to assist you, you could be left wondering how to handle beneficiaries' many questions
about what will happen to the family home and heirlooms.
You could be challenged in court by next-of-kin who want to represent the estate themselves. Common law partners, stepchildren, guardians for minor children or ex-spouses may all make claims against the estate or the deceased may have few or only distant relatives left to inherit. Then there's the financial bond, equal to double the estate's value, probate courts require when there is no Will. We manage the details for you.
Axess Law has skilled probate lawyers in Greater Toronto Area who can prepare the legal documents needed to persuade a judge that you will act responsibly on the deceased's behalf. We guide you in locating information courts request to grant a certificate of estate trustee without a Will and answer any questions you have about the probate process. We make sworn and notarized copies of affidavits and certified true copies in case your originals are lost or misplaced.
What to Expect in Ontario Probate Court
Probate court judges will examine the probate application your Axess Law lawyer presents. The court will then collect the estate administration tax, based on the estimated value.
Be prepared to provide a bank draft payable to the Minister of Finance for the estate administration tax. Based on the estate's estimated value, you will pay:
- no tax on the first $50,000 or less
- and $15 for every $1,000 after $50,000.
We can calculate what that amount will be at your initial probate appointment.
Documents We Need
Bring the deceased's original Will to your Axess Law appointment. Our probate consultants may also need to see:
- the death certificate, proof of death or Declarations of Death Act order (for missing persons)
- an estimate of the estate's value
- a list next-of-kin, who must renounce their right to be estate trustee
- information on minor children or dependents
- proof of Ontario residency and your identity, such as government-issued photo ID (driver's licence or OHIP health care card).
We show you where to look for Wills to ensure none exist. We prepare affidavits to give to next-of-kin, seeking their consent for your appointment as estate trustee and a sworn, notarized application to Ontario probate court to obtain that certificate. Our lawyers can draft motions and affidavits asking the court to waive the required financial bond.
Your First Consultation is Free
At Axess Law, your initial probate consultation is free. We give you legal advice on Ontario estate law and what it takes to probate an estate without a Will. We make you aware of filing deadlines, income and estate tax responsibilities and executors' to beneficiaries, creditors and financial institutions. We also answer your questions about death benefits and private or public pensions you may be entitled to. You leave with a quote on what our legal fees will be, any third party fees and taxes. Our quote is all-inclusive. There are no hidden fees or surprises.
Make Probate Appointments Online
You can use our online booking form to make an appointment, phone us at 1-647-479-0118 or pop by any office. We're open throughout the week, at convenient day or evening times. Our lawyers can meet you in person at Greater Toronto Area law offices nearby or make a virtual video call with you from anywhere in Ontario.