Probate Without a Will

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 is Probate?

Probate is the legal process for reviewing the assets of a deceased person and determining inheritors. Probating a deceased’s last Will and testament proves it is genuine and valid. Before you distribute Wills and estates to beneficiaries, ask our cheap lawyers (Toronto and nearby) to help you get a certificate of appointment of estate trustee from an Ontario probate court. Even if you are named executor in a personal Will, your right to distribute a next-of-kin’s estate could be challenged in court. Axess Law online probate lawyers show you where to take a Will to get permission to probate it and what to do if your legal authority as estate trustee is questioned.

How It Works


Book Your Appointment

Click on ‘Get Started’ to submit your details. Our client care team will contact you shortly to schedule your appointment with the lawyer.


Free Consultation with the Lawyer

Your first probate consultation is free, without obligation. An Axess Law lawyer will give you a probate quote and answer any probate questions you have.


Applying for Probate

Our lawyers will work with you to complete the application forms and apply for probate in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Documents We Need

The legal representation you choose can help the process of probate proceed smoothly. At Axess Law, our lawyers are highly experienced and qualified to assist you in applying for probate. Bring the following for your online video conference (anywhere in Ontario) or in-person meeting at our Greater Toronto Area law offices:

Prior to closing, Axess Law will ask you for two pieces of ID. Proving your identity is obligatory to prevent fraud. You may use either two pieces of primary ID (Ontario driver’s license, passport, Ontario photo card, Canadian citizenship card with photo or Canadian permanent resident card with photo) or one primary and one secondary ID (Birth certificate, social insurance card, or major credit card with your name on it).

You will be required to submit proof of death while filing the application. This would include documents such as a death certificate from the funeral home or coroner.
Make an estimated value of the deceased’s estate. You can revise the asset list later if other real properties or personal possessions are located.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a complete list of relatives. Your initial efforts are fine for our purposes. You will, however, need a list of next of kin, who must now renounce their right to be estate trustees.
Make a list of the information on minor children or dependents that the deceased had.
When meeting with your Axess Law Probate lawyer, you will be required to share proof of Ontario residency and your identity, such as a government-issued photo ID (driver’s licence or OHIP health care card).

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.

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.

Why You Need a Probate Lawyer

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. We:

Prepare the legal documents

Answer questions about the probate process

Make sworn and notarized copies of affidavits

Guide you in locating court requests to grant a certificate of estate trustee without a Will

What Our Customers Say About Us

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Convenient Appointments

Make an appointment by calling +1.877.402.4207 or fill out our online booking form. Axess Law gives you the choice of booking an online or in-person appointment. Our lawyers are available 7 days a week, at times convenient for you. We can meet in person, by phone, email, or via a remote video call. In addition to these, there are 5 Axess Law offices located across the Greater Toronto Area – all with onsite parking or easily accessible by public transit.

Some FAQs

Applying for probate with a Will requires an application to a court in the area where the deceased lived, affidavits from witnesses who executed the original Will, and an estimation of the value of the deceased’s assets. Axess Law’s Greater Toronto Area Wills attorneys prepare legal documents for filing in Ontario probate court and advise you on legal technicalities you may not know about.

We can refer you to qualified lawyers who can defend you in court if your appointment or decisions as an estate trustee are questioned. Our probate lawyers can also prepare court forms if you want to resign as estate trustee, before you begin administering the estate or if you find the task is more than you can manage.

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.

You pay:

  • no tax on the first $50,000 or less
  • and $15 for every $1,000 after $50,000.

Taxes are due when the probate application is submitted, by bank draft payable to the Ontario Minister of Finance.

Probate can be optional for certain estates that are small (under $50,000), organized to avoid probate or if beneficiaries agree not to challenge the Will or estate trustee certificate. Banks, credit unions and investment companies are reluctant to grant access to a deceased’s financial accounts without proof you are the estate trustee. Regardless of how modest or straightforward an Ontario estate may be, you still may need to probate a Will.

You Need Probate If:

  • The deceased owned real estate of their own or with others, not jointly with a spouse or common-law partner.
  • They had personal bank accounts besides a joint spousal account.
  • Their bank, credit union, investment advisor or creditors need evidence you are the estate trustee. 
  • Foreign or non-registered investments are involved, such as stocks, bonds or options.
  • The estate is named beneficiary for insurance, RRSPs, RRIFs or TFSAs.
  • They have property outside Ontario, such as vehicles, trailers or ATVs.

You Don’t Need Probate for:

Some Will makers include assets not requiring probate in secondary Wills, such as: 

  • real estate located outside Ontario
  • bank accounts or Ontario property owned with joint tenants that can be transferred using a survivorship application
  • pensions and Canada Pension Plan death benefits
  • insurance or registered assets like RRSPs, RRIFs or TFSAs with named beneficiaries
  • or RESPs with joint subscribers.

Assets with named beneficiaries or subject to rights of survivorship can pass outside a Will, with no probate required.

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. 

You pay:

  • no tax on the first $50,000 or less
  • and $15 for every $1,000 after $50,000.

Taxes are owed when the probate application is submitted, via bank draft payable to the Minister of Finance.

Axess Law’s Ontario probate consultants are highly experienced and can help you apply for probate in a court near you. They offer legal advice on Ontario estate law, review Wills for probate and draft probate applications with a Will or without a Will. They can even inform you about filing deadlines for final income taxes and estate tax returns and to ensure creditors, mortgages and property taxes are paid on time.

As estate trustee, you hope probate will go quickly and efficiently. Errors or omissions on court forms can delay your application. Having a probate lawyer reduces how long is needed for probate applications to be granted.  We guide you through the process to ensure everything is in order and advise you what to do if others object to your application. 

Probate can take two to four weeks in smaller municipalities or months in the Greater Toronto Area. Our probate lawyers nearby can meet with you in person or, if it’s more convenient, arrange probate video calls anywhere in Ontario.

Estate information return form 9955e can be submitted online or delivered by hand, mail, courier, or fax once you have an estimate of the assets’ value. The EIR is completely different from the deceased’s final income tax return, which you must also prepare. Axess Law’s Ontario virtual Wills and estates lawyers help you understand all of your estate trustee obligations.
It’s not unusual for estate trustees to still be collecting and valuing assets before the EIR deadline is up, simply estimate their value and complete the estate information return online submission. Courts don’t expect estate trustees to be able to guess what real property, financial assets, or personal possessions are worth. Valuations are best done by asking professional appraisers for an asset’s fair market value. Appraisal costs can be deducted from the estate proceeds, with whatever is left after professional fees (including your own) going to the beneficiaries.
As an estate trustee, you can correct an inaccurate or incomplete return within four years, as long as you submit the information within 30 calendar days of discovering an error. You must complete a revised EIR and submit it the same way you did the original. If you underestimated the estates’ value, you must submit an amended EIR within 60 calendar days of receiving the new valuation. If more than four years have passed, write to the Ministry of Finance with the updated information. Assets that have been appreciated since your first estimate do not affect the estate, since taxes are based on their value on the day the deceased died.
As an estate trustee, not completing an EIR could get you in trouble. The Ontario Ministry of Finance may audit estate taxes after you submit an EIR. If you are reckless or neglectful in how you report assets, fail to file a return, commit fraud or leave out information, the taxes may be reassessed. Estate trustees can be fined from $1,000 to twice the amount of estate tax payable and/or be sentenced to up to two years in prison for misrepresenting an estate’s value.
Yes, hiring a lawyer can remove the stress of the estate returns process. With Axess Law’s Wills and Estate lawyers, you can take the complexity out of meeting strict deadlines for compliance with court undertakings and submitting information to the Ministry of Finance. We help ensure your EIR is accurate, complete, and on time. We also advise you on filing the EIR with the Ontario government and getting on with distributing the estate to beneficiaries. Axess Law helps you figure out estate trustee responsibilities and legal obligations in Ontario.