Wills & Estates, January 25, 2024 - by Lypkie Henderson

Probate Law: What You Need to Know

When someone passes away, they may leave behind an estate. An Estate comprises the deceased’s debts and assets. Though this is a difficult time for many families, the law may require you to take specific steps. When your loved one leaves behind a Will, probate may be a process you need to engage with.

Working with a probate lawyer in Edmonton can help demystify the process. Here’s a quick look at some of the critical facts to know about the probate process for Alberta estates.

The basics of probate: a definition

“Probate” refers to the legal process of the court validating a Will. There are essential steps to take soon after the individual passes away. Completing probate on an estate can take many months.

Does everyone have to go through probate?

Not always, but you should anticipate probate except in narrow circumstances. For example, if a husband passes away and transfers everything to his wife, probate may be unnecessary if the assets are already shared. Estates of very low value with few assets to distribute may also not require probate. Wills that require complex distributions and those concerning high-value estates normally go through the courts.

Probate does not apply if an individual dies without a Will—which is referred to as “intestacy.” When a person dies “intestate” it requires a different process called a “Grant of Administration.” Such a grant comes with more limitations and requirements and can pose greater challenges if you try to navigate the situation on your own. An estate lawyer is an essential resource in this type of situation.

Navigating the probate court process

A lawyer can help you take the appropriate steps in the probate process. However, here’s a quick look at the necessary steps for obtaining a grant of probate.

  • First, obtain a death certificate.
  • Obtain all documentation about the assets and debts of the deceased.
  • Locate all the beneficiaries named in the Will.
  • Apply to the court for a Grant of Probate.
  • The court appoints the personal representative (executor/executrix) of the estate according to the Will or another individual if necessary.
  • You must then notify all the beneficiaries named in the Will
  •  The court will then review the grant application, and determine if the Will is valid and enforceable.
  • After review, the court grants probate, which allows you to begin making distributions and managing the estate’s remaining affairs.

Although the steps may seem straightforward, complications can arise—especially if disputes about the Will exist.

Find an experienced probate lawyer in Edmonton today

The situation can feel overwhelming when you’re responsible for someone’s estate as a personal representative. Experienced assistance makes the difference and helps you reach a timely conclusion. When you need help with a Will or probate in Alberta, Lypkie Henderson can support you through this process. Schedule a consultation with our offices today to learn more about your options.

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