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Do you have questions about your role or about probate? We assist executors navigate the court system so they can confidently settle estates. Some of your questions about Manitoba Probate and Estates Law may be answered in our video series below. Or, you can contact us today.

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Are you an executor? Do you have questions about your role or about probate? We can help. Some of your questions about Manitoba Probate and Estates Law may be answered in our video series below. Or, you can contact us today. 

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Probate and Estates

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Are you an executor? Do you have questions about your role or about probate? We can help. Some of your questions about Manitoba Probate and Estates Law may be answered in our video series below. Or, you can contact us today. 

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Probate & Estates Video Series

I've been named executor, what now?

A loved one has passed away, and you have been named executor. What now? As executor, you have several responsibilities, including obtaining a grant of probate from the courts. 

We offer a free step-by-step guide to assist you. We hope you find this information helpful during this difficult time.

What is probate?

It depends who you ask. Wikipedia defines probate as a court process that proves a will. However, in Manitoba, the Wills Act establishes the criteria for a valid will. If the Will is valid, then it doesn’t need a process to prove it.

I prefer to think of probate as a legal process where third parties (like banks and credit unions) can rely on a grant of probate for protection. The granting of probate by the court is the first step in the legal process of administering an estate. Once probate is granted, the executor can enforce the Will.

Is probate necessary?

No. Probate is not always required. As long as a Will meets the requirements of the Wills Act, it is valid. Probate is only necessary when an institution holding the assets of a deceased asks for a "grant of probate" or "letters of probate."

Probate is always required if the deceased owned real property (a house, cottage, vacant land, commercial property, rentals, condo or agricultural land) in his or her own name.

When is probate necessary?

Third parties who hold the deceased's assets (like banks or credit unions) will require some kind of protection before they let someone who claims to be executor access those assets. 

For example, someone names a nephew in Halifax as executor and leaves all of his or her belongings to him. After the testator's death, the nephew shows up at the bank in Winnipeg with a copy of the Will and asks for a bank draft for all the money in the testator's bank account, being approximately $57,000. The bank representatives would justifiably be concerned about fraud. How do they know that the Will is valid?

The bank will ask the executor to obtain a grant of probate, which is essentially a certificate from the court "probating" the will. The bank will then be able to rely on that document. If someone comes along later claiming fraud, the bank will not be responsible.

What happens when someone dies without a Will?

Someone who dies without a Will dies intestate. The Intestate Successions Act governs this situation. The act sets out a distribution priority.

For example, if the deceased is married with children from that marriage, all will go to the spouse. The act also sets out a priority for those who can apply to court to have letters of administration issued.

Letters of administration are essentially the same as letters of probate, except that there is no Will to probate. The court will issue a document appointing an individual as administrator. The administrator is the person who distributes the assets in accordance with the Intestate Successions Act.

How much time does it take to probate a will?

Unfortunately, I have no standard answer. It depends... First, it depends on how quickly the executor can round up all the necessary information. Lawyers need a list of all assets at the time of death (including bank and investment statements) and the names and addresses of all beneficiaries.

Once we have all that information, we can prepare the request for your signature. Once signed, we submit the request to court. Court approval can take anywhere from two to six weeks. Overall, the process can take anywhere from six weeks to several months from the first appointment to final distribution.

How much does a probate cost?

As of July 1st, 2020, Manitoba courts will no longer charge probate fees.

How much are Executor fees?

Many people believe that executors can charge a fee based on a certain percentage of the estate. While in some cases 1% is appropriate, a percentage based approach is not recommended. Courts have long held that it depends on the work involved. A small complicated estate may warrant high fees where as a large simple estate may not.

We can advise you on how much an executor should be paid to administer an estate in Manitoba.

I've been named executor, what now?

A loved one has passed away, and you have been named executor. What now? As executor, you have several responsibilities, including obtaining a grant of probate from the courts. 

We offer a free step-by-step guide to assist you. We hope you find this information helpful during this difficult time.

What is probate?

It depends who you ask. Wikipedia defines probate as a court process that proves a will. However, in Manitoba, the Wills Act establishes the criteria for a valid will. If the Will is valid, then it doesn’t need a process to prove it.

I prefer to think of probate as a legal process where third parties (like banks and credit unions) can rely on a grant of probate for protection. The granting of probate by the court is the first step in the legal process of administering an estate. Once probate is granted, the executor can enforce the Will.

Is probate necessary?

No. Probate is not always required. As long as a Will meets the requirements of the Wills Act, it is valid. Probate is only necessary when an institution holding the assets of a deceased asks for a "grant of probate" or "letters of probate."

Probate is always required if the deceased owned real property (a house, cottage, vacant land, commercial property, rentals, condo or agricultural land) in his or her own name.

When is probate necessary?

Third parties who hold the deceased's assets (like banks or credit unions) will require some kind of protection before they let someone who claims to be executor access those assets. 

For example, someone names a nephew in Halifax as executor and leaves all of his or her belongings to him. After the testator's death, the nephew shows up at the bank in Winnipeg with a copy of the Will and asks for a bank draft for all the money in the testator's bank account, being approximately $57,000. The bank representatives would justifiably be concerned about fraud. How do they know that the Will is valid?

The bank will ask the executor to obtain a grant of probate, which is essentially a certificate from the court "probating" the will. The bank will then be able to rely on that document. If someone comes along later claiming fraud, the bank will not be responsible.

What happens when someone dies without a Will?

Someone who dies without a Will dies intestate. The Intestate Successions Act governs this situation. The act sets out a distribution priority.

For example, if the deceased is married with children from that marriage, all will go to the spouse. The act also sets out a priority for those who can apply to court to have letters of administration issued.

Letters of administration are essentially the same as letters of probate, except that there is no Will to probate. The court will issue a document appointing an individual as administrator. The administrator is the person who distributes the assets in accordance with the Intestate Successions Act.

How much time does it take to probate a will?

Unfortunately, I have no standard answer. It depends... First, it depends on how quickly the executor can round up all the necessary information. Lawyers need a list of all assets at the time of death (including bank and investment statements) and the names and addresses of all beneficiaries.

Once we have all that information, we can prepare the request for your signature. Once signed, we submit the request to court. Court approval can take anywhere from two to six weeks. Overall, the process can take anywhere from six weeks to several months from the first appointment to final distribution.

How much does probate cost?

As of July 1st, 2020, Manitoba courts will no longer charge probate fees.

How much are executor fees?

Many people believe that executors can charge a fee based on a certain percentage of the estate. While in some cases 1% is appropriate, a percentage based approach is not recommended. Courts have long held that it depends on the work involved. A small complicated estate may warrant high fees where as a large simple estate may not.

We can advise you on how much an executor should be paid to administer an estate in Manitoba.

Easy Explanations

What is an Executor?

The executor/trix is responsible for managing the estate. This includes tasks like arranging the funeral, identifying beneficiaries, retaining a lawyer, executing the Will and so on.

What is Probate?

Probate is required to transfer real estate, or funds held by institutions like banks and credit unions. However, probate is not always necessary.

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Do I need a Will?

No. But having a will is strongly recommended regardless if you have assets or not. 

If a person dies without a Will, it means they have died intestate. And this means that the Intestate Successions Act will decide what happens to the deceased’s estate even though this may not be what the deceased or their family wants. Questions such as: who will file your final tax return, who will manage closing your accounts, and other administrative roles must be answered. 

How much does a will cost in Manitoba?

Wills are not regulated in Manitoba, and some lawyers will charge more or less than others. It depends on your estate’s complexity and may start from a few hundred dollars and run to many thousands of dollars.

What is my job as an executor?

Before anything else, you must ensure that the deceased’s debts are paid for and any other outstanding legal issues are settled. You are responsible for managing the deceased’s estate and tasks such as arranging funeral expenses, executing the will, identifying beneficiaries, retaining a lawyer and many more.

What is my job as the Power of Attorney?

While an executor sees to it that a person’s will is carried out after they dies, a Power of Attorney legally acts for a person who becomes ill or incapacitated and could not make their own decisions.

What is probate and why is it important?

When a person dies in Manitoba, the appointed executor of the deceased receives legal power over the deceased’s assets, according to the Wills Acts of Manitoba. 

Although this executor automatically has power over these assets including bank accounts and investments, it’s not as simple as that. After all, a bank won’t just allow a stranger to walk in and give control of a bank account just because it says so on a piece of paper. 

That’s what makes probate extremely important. 

Letters of probate safeguard financial institutions such as banks, credit unions or investment companies to ensure that the will of the deceased is valid. These letters protect them from any liabilities from people who may question the executor’s power - or in instances when the executor acts inappropriately or illegally.  

When is probate necessary in Manitoba?

An executor must present letters of probate in our province if financial institutions such as banks, credit unions or investment companies require them to do so before releasing the deceased’s assets. 

There are times when these institutions may not require a probate. A common example is when the deceased had a small estate (eg. they did not have a lot of money). There is no clear or set definition of what makes an estate considered small - they can release funds from $30,000 to $90,000. It all depends on the bank or the credit union.

How do I apply for probate in Manitoba?

The executor needs to apply for probate in court. Although it is possible to apply for one by yourself, we highly recommend working with a lawyer who can make the application for you. The court regularly rejects applications and a lawyer can save you a lot of time and trouble.

Should I hire an estate lawyer?

We highly recommend hiring an estate lawyer to deal with Wills and Estates in Manitoba. Here at TLR Law, we help our clients write their wills, and we provide executors, administrators, families and friends legal counsel when someone dies. 

We are more than happy to answer any further questions you may have. We’re here to make it as easy as possible for you and your loved ones. Our legal advice starts at only $95. Give us a call and book your appointment today! 

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