Financial Planning Q 'n A

What are probate fees? Can I avoid them?

Probate fees exist in almost every province. They are charged by the courts to confirm the deceased’s will is valid and the executor has authority to administer the estate. The fees vary from very low to as high as 1.5% of the value of the estate in certain provinces. In most instances it is difficult to avoid probate fees in their entirety without causing other adverse tax consequences. Some planning techniques include holding some property as joint tenants with a right of survivorship, naming beneficiaries on life insurance polices and RRSP’s, transferring property before in your lifetime, changing the location of property to a low probate jurisdiction, creating alter-ego trusts and creating a second will to transfer assets such as private company shares.