When a person passes away their will may need to be probated. The validity of the will and the confirmation of the appointment of the executor are verified through the probate process. Probating a will is not always required. It depends on the assets of the estate and what is required by the holder of the assets in order to allow the executor to access the assets. If the executor must obtain a grant of probate (a type of representation grant) in order to deal with the estate assets, probate fees of approximately 1.4% must be paid on the value of the estate assets before the grant is issued.
Multiple wills can be used in BC to separate the assets for which a grant of probate must be obtained from the assets for which a grant is not required in order for the executor to be able to deal with them. The primary or general will governs all of the assets that probate must be obtained for, such as real property in the deceased's sole name. The secondary or limited will deals with assets that don't require probate, such as shares in private companies. Only the primary will needs to be probated when the will-maker dies so probate fees do not need to be paid in respect of the value of the assets governed by the secondary will. This strategy can result in substantial savings in probate fees.
The drafting of multiple wills can be complicated and to be effective under BC law certain requirements must be met.
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This article is intended to be an overview and is for informational purposes only.