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Calculating Probate Fees in Alberta

In this article:

    Probate is the legal process of formally accepting a will and accepting the estate's executor and estate trustee or administrator. Probate isn’t always required, and it works differently depending on whether there is a will or not. 

    If there is no will and no executor, the Court of King's Bench of Alberta will appoint someone to act as the estate administrator instead. 

    In this article, we’ll break down everything about probate fees in Alberta, including what they are, how they are calculated, how long probate takes, and how estate planning can help you avoid probate.

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    Key takeaways

    • Probate is the process of legally accepting a will and appointing someone as executor or administrator
    • In Alberta, not all estates require probate. Probate is more likely for estates with solely owned assets, large or complex estates or estates without a will
    • Probate fees are paid through the estate, not the executor or administrator
    • Alberta has some of the most affordable probate fees in the country, with fees capped at a maximum of $525

    What are probate fees in Alberta?

    Probate fees have a few different names, including estate administration tax, probate tax, or simply court filing fees. Not all estates require probate, and probate fees are calculated based on the value of the estate.

    When do you pay probate fees?

    Fees are paid to the Court of King’s Bench when someone, usually the appointed executor or someone who would like to be an estate administrator, submits an application for a grant of probate or a grant of administration.

    What do you pay probate fees on in Alberta?

    Probate fees are calculated based on the net value of your estate. Your estate consists of all your solely owned assets and property, which includes:

    • Physical estate assets like real estate, vehicles, books, and jewellery
    • Financial estate assets like cash, bank accounts, investments, and pensions
    • Insurance estate assets like life, home, health, and mortgages

    You don’t need to pay probate fees on assets that are jointly owned or inside a living trust. These things are not part of your estate, so they would circumvent the probate process.

    Do you need a lawyer to probate a will?

    In Alberta, there is no legal requirement to hire a lawyer to help with the probate process. While a lawyer can be helpful, if your executor has experience with probate or a good head for financials, they may want to handle the process on their own.

    How much are probate costs in Alberta?

    Filing fees depend on the net value of your estate. They are written in Alberta’s Judicature Care Surrogate Rules legislation as follows:

    Value of Estate Probate Fee
    $10,000 or less $35
    $10,001 to $25,000 $135
    $25,001 to $125,000 $275
    $125,001 to $250,000 $400
    $250,000+ $525

    Fees are valid as of March 2024, accessed from the Government of Alberta.

    Who pays for probate fees?

    Filing fees are paid out of the estate itself, not out of the pocket of the estate executor, trustee, or administrator. 

    That means that fees take priority over heirs and beneficiaries, and they might not receive your intended gifts or their full inheritance if probate fees are bigger than you planned.

    Alberta probate fee calculator

    Alberta Probate Fee Calculator

    Input a few details, and our Alberta Probate Tax Calculator will provide an estimated probate tax amount for the estate.

    How to avoid probate in Alberta

    Not all wills need to be probated in Canada. 

    Your own will may not need to go through probate in Alberta if:

    • You have a small estate
    • Your financial institution(s) agree to waive a grant of probate
    • You are a status First Nation who passed away on a reserve
    • You have multiple wills, and one of your wills does not require probate

    If you’re unsure if these apply to your situation, here are some estate planning steps you can make now to decrease your estate’s likelihood of needing probate. 

    1. Make a will: Probate is almost guaranteed when there is no will, because the Court of King’s Bench would need to get involved and appoint an administrator. By making a legally-valid will, you help your estate avoid guaranteed probate.
    2. Add a joint owner to your assets: Jointly owned assets are not part of your estate. If you share assets such as bank accounts and personal property, these assets will go straight to the surviving owner(s) instead of being subject to probate.
    3. Name beneficiaries for incomes and assets: RRSPs, RRIFs, investment accounts, insurance policies, and pension funds allow you to name a beneficiary who would directly receive these incomes and assets when you pass away. Like joint ownership, this allows these assets to avoid going into your estate and being probated. Naming beneficiaries is especially important if you’re in a common law relationship, as your partner may not be recognized for inheritance the same way a married spouse would be.
    4. Keep your will updated: If you already have a will, make sure to update it with your current asset list and chosen executors, beneficiaries, guardians, and funeral wishes. This will allow your executor to value your estate accurately and avoid misrepresenting it with values that might make probate necessary. 

    ✏️ Update your will for free →

    Prepare your estate for the future

    Estate planning makes preparing for probate easy and even helps reduce probate fees should probate be necessary. 

    If probate ends up being necessary, which it frequently is if you solely own property or have a large estate, choosing the right executor for the job is important, as is creating and updating your asset list

    When you make your will, you take the first step towards ensuring your estate is distributed according to your wishes. It’s planning for the future and protecting your loved ones after you pass away. 

    Willful helps you create your legal will, power of attorney documents, and more within your budget and on your own time. 

    Save thousands in legal fees. Make your will with Willful →

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    This online Wills service is super easy, fast & user-friendly. I highly recommend doing your will this way.
    — Nicole, a Willful customer from Alberta

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