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Calculating Probate Fees in British Columbia

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    In estate planning, probate is the legal process where the courts formally accept a will and accept the executor or administrator of the estate. 

    Probate is not always required. Additionally, if there is no will and no executor, the provincial courts of British Columbia are responsible for appointing someone to act as the estate trustee instead. 

    In this article, we’ll break down everything about probate fees in BC, 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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    What are probate fees in BC?

    Probate fees, which are also known as estate administration tax or probate tax, are paid to the Provincial Court of British Columbia for any estates valued at more than $25,000. 

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

    When do you pay probate fees?

    Because the process largely depends on what type of estate assets are involved in the estate, not all estates require probate. 

    Here’s a quick way to check if your estate might require probate:

    • You solely own real estate, shares, or financial accounts
    • Your assets, liabilities, and debts are valued at more than $25,000
    • Your bank or financial institution requires a grant of probate to process assets over a certain amount

    Probate and court filing fees are paid once the executor or estate trustee has collected all the relevant information and submitted the probate application to the courts.

    Are bank accounts subject to probate in BC?

    Any asset that is solely owned by the deceased becomes part of the estate and is therefore subject to probate. If a bank account is jointly owned, then the surviving owner takes ownership without probate.

    How long does probate usually take in BC?

    Once a probate application is submitted, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for the courts to finalize it and issue a grant of probate. The process tends to be on the longer end for more populated provinces like BC and Ontario. 

    How to calculate probate fees in BC

    Probate fees are calculated based on the value of the estate, which means the gross value of all real and intangible assets the deceased owned in BC. 

    Here’s the breakdown based on the Probate Fee Act:

    Value of Estate Probate Fee
    $25,000 or less $0
    $25,001 to $50,000 $6 for every $1,000
    $50,000+ $14 for every $1,000

    These fees are accurate as of February 29st, 2024

    How much is the probate filing fee in BC?

    According to Schedule 1 of Appendix C of the Supreme Court Civil Rules, there is no filing fee for estates valued at less than or equal to $25,000. For any estate with a value of more than $25,000, there is a flat filing fee of $200. 

    Probate fee calculator

    British Columbia Probate Fee Calculator

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

    How to avoid probate fees in BC

    Not all wills need to be probated, nor do all estates need probate. 

    Here are some estate planning tips to help your estate avoid probate in the future:

    1. Make a will: Without a will, the probate process is almost guaranteed because the courts must get involved to appoint an administrator. By making a legally-valid will, you help your estate avoid guaranteed probate.
    2. Jointly own: Naming another owner for assets such as bank accounts and personal property allows them to assume ownership after you pass away. That means these assets can avoid probate entirely because they are not part of your estate.
    3. Name beneficiaries for incomes and assets: RRSPs, RRIFs, investment accounts, insurance policies, pension funds, and more all allow you to designate beneficiaries. If you name a beneficiary, these funds and assets will go directly to the beneficiaries rather than through your estate, which lowers your estate value and helps it avoid probate.
    4. Don’t wait to gift: Gifting your assets before you pass away helps decrease your estate size and value, which in turn helps you avoid probate.
    5. Update your will: If you already have a will, make sure to keep it updated with your current asset list and the appointment of your executor, beneficiaries, and guardians. Not only will this help smooth your estate settlement process, it will also help your executor value your estate with only the assets you have, not the assets you used to have.

    ✏️ Update your will anytime, anywhere with Willful →

    How to prepare for probate

    By making a will, you give yourself the power to choose not only who takes care of your estate but also how it will be handled and distributed. Taking the time to estate plan today will help your loved ones deal with the settlement process in the future. 

    With an online will platform like Willful, you can make your estate plan easily and affordably, saving you thousands of dollars compared to a lawyer and helping your estate reduce probate fees in the future. And in BC, you can even make and execute your will digitally!

    Plan for probate and more. Start your will today →

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