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Although different provinces have slightly different rules, probate is basically the court process of validating your Will so third-parties (such as financial institutions) can be certain they are dealing with a valid document and taking instructions from the right person (the executor you've chosen). This ensures your wishes, as outlined in your will, can be carried out. This includes the distribution of your assets – like property and investments. But many people don't want their families to go through the public and, many times, lengthy probate process if it can be avoided.
If you understand how probate works in your province, you can put estate strategies in place to potentially avoid probate. Your advisor can work with you, your lawyer and your tax professional to determine what may work best for your situation.
Generally, an executor, with the assistance of a lawyer, makes an application to the probate court by submitting:
Some of the responsibilities of the executor include:
It's important to remember that every province has different rules and processes for probate. Talk to your lawyer to learn more about how probate may look where you live.
Some types of property (sometimes called non-probate assets) pass automatically to specific beneficiaries without a court’s involvement. For example, if you name beneficiaries on assets including Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), insurance policies and annuities, they likely won't have to go through probate. In addition, assets that are titled in certain ways (like "joint with right of survivorship") may not need to go through probate.
The probate process is intended to help provide some certainty on how your estate is handled after your death. But with that certainty come some potential disadvantages, including:
No matter what your estate includes, we believe it's important to understand how your assets will be passed down to your beneficiaries. This includes gaining a high-level understanding of the probate process. With your team of legal and tax professionals, your Edward Jones Advisor can answer questions you have to allow you to make informed decisions regarding your estate strategy.
Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your estate-planning lawyer or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.
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