Our experienced estate staff can do it all: apply for probate, deal with banks and insurance companies, list and sell a residence, look after income taxes, deal with multiple beneficiaries including minors or disabled persons, manage the estate assets, and even clear out, fix up and sell a residence. You choose how much you want to be involved.
Our fees are competitive and our service is prompt and efficient. We believe that at the end you will look back and say "that was much easier and faster than I had feared".
Thank you for advising us on receiving the signed consent form, I guess this will be the last of us being in contact as everything is now settled & file closed. It has been a real pleasure working with you & everyone else involved with my Mother’s passing last year. We can’t express enough of how much we appreciate how easy you made it for Will & I at such a devastating time in our lives. Very sincerely,
I just wanted to thank you for the work you’ve done on Mom’s will. As executor of a previous will, I’ve learned how bad it can be with poor administration/direction. You made things clear and concise and your quick responses to my emails were very much appreciated. You did a very fine job. Thank you.
Both you and your staff have been very supportive to me as executor of my mother's estate. I have had many questions answered in a timely and courteous manner. Getting through the distribution of the funds is a challenge with eager recipients but I did appreciate your support
Thanks so much for your guidance as we navigated the probate process for my Mother's estate
I was pleased to work with Natalie and Murray on my Mum’s estate. Not easy task to process your Mum’s estate, you were both helpful in that regard
To Murray & Lucky Uppal Thank you, both of you. There is no way to fully explain to you how much it has meant to me, and my husband, that you agreed to represent me regarding my mother’s estate. Nothing at all went the way it should have gone, with her final illness, passing, cremation, or the closing of the estate – except for this one thing, that you helped me to insist that the estate be handled accordingly to the law. Thank you for seeing past what usually concerns people arguing over an estate, to what actually concerns us. We are grateful. I can move on, now.
Dear Natalie: Thank you all so much for your considerable effort in the settlement of Pat’s estate. It has been such a pleasure to deal with Murray and all the staff both in Tsawwassen and in Ladner.
The simple answer is no. Using joint ownership to try to avoid probate fees may seem like a good idea, but it can actually result in a whole host of problems including increased risk.
Let’s take a look at the big picture. Once a person becomes a joint owner, the equity in the home could be made available to that person’s creditors in the event of a divorce, bankruptcy, or other financial legal settlement. For example, in a divorce your son or daughter’s spouse could demand that the divorce settlement include a portion of the equity in the property. In the case of a bankruptcy, your home may be at risk of being repossessed to pay off creditors. Another possible case could be that your son or daughter is involved in a car accident and ends up being sued for an amount greater than they’re insured for. Instead of providing your child with a “nest egg,” you could end up losing everything even before you pass away.
There are also tax implications. If your home is not your son or daughter’s principal residence, he/she would have to pay capital gains on his/her percentage of interest in the property upon your passing, often amounting to more than the probate fee’s payable.
And, adding a second registered owner to the title of the property means that they will need to sign any documentation relating to the subsequent sale or refinancing of it.
To summarize, in most cases, we find that any benefits of avoiding probate fees using joint ownership are outweighed by the risks and costs involved.
Is "Probate" really the dark scary cloud lurking from beyond the grave to devour the estate of a departed loved one? While it may be prudent to take steps to avoid it, probate is not a fearful crisis, and has an important role to play in the orderly transfer of assets from an estate to the rightful beneficiaries. Wills are powerful pieces of paper – they can deal with large amounts of money and property – and there can be problems with them. An earlier will is cancelled by a later one. Marriage can invalidate a will. A will can be improperly signed (no witnesses, or witnesses who are also beneficiaries.) Or it can be challenged for not making adequate provision for a spouse or child, or because the maker was not mentally competent, or was pressured into making the will. So when a bank, or the Land Title Office, or an insurance company, or any other agency that controls assets, is presented with a document purporting to be a “last Will”, it has no real knowledge of the story behind the paper. And no agency wants to pay out money or transfer real estate to the wrong person, or be embroiled in litigation.
Probate is the process by which the Supreme Court of BC reviews the will and the circumstances of it and – if it passes – gives it a stamp of approval in the form of an order of Letters Probate. The Court checks to see that all interested parties are notified; that there are no earlier wills; that there are no claims (or that claims are dealt with if they are made) and that the assets are properly investigated and disclosed. Oh yes, and they charge a fee. Probate fees are 1.4% of the gross value of the estate: something that can be avoided where advisable, but not a major cost where they cannot be avoided. And a well-run probate application should take no more than 3-4 months.
Although it is frequently viewed by a Will maker as an “honour “ bestowed upon ones nearest and dearest, the role of Executor comes with deadly serious responsibilities and duties, and should not be taken lightly. Depending on the complexity and size of the Estate to be administered, it could be a trap for the unwary!
The basic duties of the executor are to collect the assets of the estate; deal with creditors and claims, including tax issues; administer and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will. The most problematic of all of these duties is dealing with and accounting to the beneficiaries.
An executor must be scrupulous and even handed in his dealings with the beneficiaries. There can be no hint of “Self-dealing” gain or benefit from the position bearing in mind that there will be a passing of Accounts.
An executor may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses pursuant to the terms of the Will or the legislation (s88 Trustee Act R.S.B.C 1996, c 494) or by prior agreement with the testator. When deciding to be or not to be an Executor – speak with a lawyer to get the heads up on your obligations.
In a buoyant real estate market like we have in South Delta, many people will want to list their parents’ residence as soon as possible after they pass. Where there is a Will the Executor can usually do that. The Executor has the power to list and sell the estate residence as soon as the Will comes into effect, which is on death. Before the residence can actually transfer to a buyer you will probably need to go through the Probate process, which takes about four months. In the meantime you can:
1. Access the house, change the locks, empty and clean it, and pay the bills.
2. List the property for sale with a realtor.
3. Negotiate the terms of sale and sign a Contract of Purchase and Sale.
Usually the time required to list, sell, and allow the buyer to arranging financing will be enough to get the Probate through. If not then there are several mechanisms for preserving the sale, including amending the closing and possession dates, or an escrow agreement by which the buyers put their down payment into trust and move in early. Note, however, that the situation is different where there is no Will: the “Administrator” – usually next of kin – must apply to the court for the authority to administer the estate of the deceased person, and has no power to do the things listed above until they receive court approval.