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What does probate cost?

In an earlier blog, I discussed what the term “probate” means and in what circumstances it is necessary. In this blog, I thought I would comment briefly on the cost of probating a will (or obtaining a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with or without a Will) since I am often contacted by people with the inquiry, “What does probate cost?”

In Ontario, it is necessary for the applicant in a probate application to pay a tax based on the value of the deceased’s estate. The tax is set out in section 2 of the Estate Administration Tax Act, 1998 (“ETA”). The tax is calculated based on the gross value of the estate (with some exceptions depending upon the estate assets) and is as follows:

  •  On the first $50,000.00 of the value of the estate, it is $5.00 for every $1,000.00; and

  • On the portion of the value of the estate that exceeds $50,000.00, it is an additional $15.00 for every $1,000.00

The tax is due at the time a probate application is submitted to the court. However, the court has discretion to grant a Certificate of Appointment (i.e., probate) before payment is made. Section (4) of the ETA provides that a judge may grant the application prior to the payment of the probate tax if the judge is satisfied, based on affidavit evidence or other evidence,

  1.  that the certificate is urgently required;

  2. that financial hardship would result from not issuing the certificate before payment; and

  3. that sufficient security for the payment of the tax has been made

For instance, in my experience, we have been successful in obtaining an order deferring the payment of the tax in circumstances wherein there are assets of the estate which need to be sold and there is no cash in the estate to pay the tax.  Thanks for reading,

Jason