Upon the death of a person, the estate belonging to the deceased has to be divided between the people to whom the deceased wanted the estate to go. This is determined via a will, which is written and witnessed by the deceased during his or her lifetime. In the event that there is no will – perhaps one was not left by the deceased or the will cannot be found – The Succession Law Reform Act determines who inherits the estate, and in some cases it may actually go to the Province if there is no natural beneficiary to be found. Probate fees can be reduced or eliminated in some cases and a discussion with our office is recommended. The will may require the courts seal of approval, to confirm that it is indeed the deceased’s last will and testament. This process commonly referred to as “Probate” triggers significant provincial taxes roughly equal to 1.5% of the value of the estate.
This area of law can be very complex. An “Estate” may refer either to the assets and debts of a deceased or alternatively the assets, debts and personal care of a person over whom a power of attorney was granted. When interested parties have a conflict about the care and handling of an estate, estate litigation can ensue. Examples are conflicts between executors (aka estate trustees) or attorneys (the people exercising the power of attorney). People who thought they were treated unfairly by the terms of the will or its absence can sue and an estate must respond. To complicate matters further, there is an intersection between “family law” and estate litigation, frequently a by-product of a second marriage. There are a number of blog articles posted on various estate subjects on our website blogs section. For more information, contact our estate clerk, Nelia Senra at extension 226 to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced lawyers.