How to Avoid Probate in Alberta?

A note on Alberta probate avoidance strategies.

Anna Dunaeva DLegal Anna Dunaeva May 31, 2021
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What Is Probate, First Of All?

If you are interested in how to avoid Probate in Alberta, it is first essential to understand what Probate is. Probate has multiple meanings. Probate can mean as much as various aspects of estate administration. Often, Probate includes both a Grant of Probate and a Grant of Administration. The Grant of Probate is a court process of validating a Will and executor’s authority to distribute assets of a deceased who passed away with a valid Will. The Grant of Administration means a court approval of someone’s authority to administer an estate of a deceased who died intestate, i.e., without a valid Will.

Why Would You Want to Learn How to Avoid Probate in Alberta?

Unfortunately, there are many myths about a court application for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Administration. Many people believe this process to be prolonged, tortuous, and exorbitantly expensive. In fact, many negative rumors about Probate are simply untrue.

The reality is that Probate is not that scary. A Probate application does require some paperwork, but a good probate lawyer will handle it painlessly. Most of the time, probate lawyers at DLegal need only 2 weeks to submit Probate paperwork to the court after receiving all information from you. The court may then need 6 months or so to review the application and issue the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. However, we receive the Grant within 6-8 weeks of filing for many probate applications in Calgary. As for the probate fees, the Court filing fee for a Probate in Alberta can be as low as $35.00 for estates of $10,000 or less. Anyways, the Probate fee in Alberta is $525.00 for all estates valued at over $250,000.

Do You Really Need To Avoid Probate?

Often, the benefits of obtaining a Probate significantly outweigh the costs. More importantly, the risks of avoiding a Probate can be relatively high and require thorough consideration and sophisticated planning. DLegal Estate Planning lawyers in Calgary are here to discuss the pros and cons of your probate avoidance strategies. Your estate planning will receive our full attention, and we will offer a custom-made succession solution for you. If you wish to learn more about the most popular ways to avoid Probate, you may consider the following. Still, please, please, do not try them unless you completely understand the risks.

Making Beneficiary Designations

You can designate beneficiaries for your registered assets, including a tax-free savings account (TFSA), registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), and registered retirement income fund (RRIF). Similarly, you can name beneficiaries for a life insurance policy. By designating beneficiaries, you put the registered asset or the life insurance policy outside of your estate. As a result, such property will go directly to the named beneficiary on your death and do not require Probate. Unfortunately, beneficiary designations do not have that flexibility as a well-drafted Will and often cannot accommodate specific family needs.

Creating Joint Tenancy

By default, joint ownership creates the right of survivorship. As a result, if one of the joint owners passes away, the asset will automatically go to the surviving joint tenant(s) instead of going to the deceased’s estate. Because the joint property is not a part of the estate, it does not require Probate. However, joint ownership is a highly complex concept and has significant pitfalls. The default rule of survivorship does not always apply. Further, the risks of joint ownership can significantly outweigh its benefits.

Establishing Living Trusts

During your lifetime, you can create a trust and designate someone to hold assets as a trustee for someone’s benefit. By establishing a trust, you give the assets away, and they do not form a part of your estate and avoid Probate. Still, giving property into a trust can limit your and the beneficiary’s control over it. Also, trusts are pretty expensive and complicated. Quite often, typical family situations do not need living trusts.

Having Multiple Wills

You can have a separate Will for each jurisdiction where you have assets, and you can have a separate Will for assets that do not require Probate. Because Probate costs vary, having a separate Will for each jurisdiction where you have property may reduce overall expenses. Only local Probate fees would apply to the assets located in that specific jurisdiction. Having a separate Will for assets that do not require Probate would allow the rest of your estate to pass onto your heirs less formally. Beware that multiple Wills require thorough paperwork so that one Will does not revoke another. Further, numerous Wills require more maintenance.

Gifts During Lifetime

Your estate includes all the assets you own at the time of death. So, making gifts during your lifetime can minimize your estate. However, by giving assets away, you lose control over them. Also, it would be best if you still kept enough for yourself. Finally, assets that appreciate in value can trigger taxes even if you transfer them as a gift. So, make sure to do your calculations first.

We welcome you to reach out to us and discuss your estate planning strategies. DLegal Calgary wills and estates lawyers are proud to provide timely and prudent solutions and affordable legal fees. Please send us an email or contact us by phone or through the website, and we will make it easy on you.


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