When do I need Letters Probate?

A good question for an executor to ask is whether an application to the Court of Queen’s Bench for Letters Probate is necessary.  If there is a properly executed Will and a named executor, the executor may need Letters Probate.

The Information Services Corporation (previously Land Titles) requires Letters Probate before it will transfer ownership of real property where the deceased held real estate solely in his or her name or as a tenant in common or as a joint tenant with no right of survivorship.

Similarly, some financial institutions will require Letters Probate before releasing significant amounts of money to an executor.  It is best to check with each of the deceased’s financial institutions to determine whether Letters Probate will be required.

There are instances where an application for Letters Probate is not necessary.

If the deceased held all of his or her property  jointly with a spouse, it is unlikely that Letters Probate will be necessary.  For example, John passed away leaving only his house and his bank accounts.  John’s spouse is a joint owner of the house and the bank accounts with a right of survivorship.  In this example, all of John’s property transfers directly to his spouse and never goes into his estate.

An application for Letters Probate may be avoided if the total value of the deceased’s estate is less than $25,000.00.  If the estate value is less than $25,000.00, an executor may be able to do a streamlined court application called an Application in Small Estates.  An Application in Small Estates is a more straight forward application, which is processed more quickly by the Court, than an application for Letters Probate.

If you are uncertain about whether Letters Probate are necessary, it is best to consult with a legal advisor to determine the best course of action.