June 24, 2021 ·
Estates in Ontario with a value of $150,000 or less can go through the Court probate application process faster and easier as of April 1st, 2021.
This new simplified procedure is one of the changes resulting from the Smarter and Stronger Justice Act. Executors of these small estates can now complete fill-in application documents available on-line and also submit them on-line, as well. The documents have been condensed significantly and, in some cases, removal of the requirement of posting a bond (security that covers financial losses to the estate due to the Executor’s dishonesty and/or mismanagement of estate funds).
As a result of these changes, Executors for small estates, no longer are faced with making a decision on whether it makes sense to settle the estate or to leave the assets unclaimed because it may be too costly to retain a qualified professional or too confusing in navigating the application process. Streamlining this process provides numerous benefits to Executors in honoring their role and to beneficiaries in receiving their inheritance faster.
Executors will need to keep in mind, before making an application through the small estate court process, that the Small Estate Certificate received will only allow them to settle the estate based on the assets listed. In some cases, it may be a wiser choice to go the regular stream if the Executor is not sure of the deceased’s complete estate. By going the regular stream and obtaining a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee, the Executor is not as limited as with the Small Estate Certificate. The notion of discovering assets after receiving the Small Estate Certificate will present complications and difficulties ending in what the Executor was trying to avoid in the first place - increased costs, confusion and significantly more time spent.
In all, if you are taking on the role of Executor, take the time to compile a complete list of assets of the estate, knowing, that once all the assets are identified and valued, if you fall under the definition of a small estate you can reduced the total time required by submitting under the Small Estate Certificate stream.