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Probate Fee Planning in BC

Category -
  • Financial & Estate Planning

Rob Radloff

Partner, Senior Financial & Estate Specialist VIEW BIO

Probate is the legal process wherein the courts validate the authenticity of your will.

Probate is the legal process wherein the courts validate the authenticity of your will. In British Columbia, this process incurs a fee of 1.4% of your asset value or $14,000 per million, a cost that can become significant for those with substantial assets.

There are several strategies to mitigate the impact of probate fees on your estate.

  • One effective method involves holding assets jointly with rights of survivorship, allowing assets to pass to the survivor without entering the estate and being subject to probate. This strategy is particularly useful to avoid probate fees on the first death. However, caution is advised when considering similar arrangements with children, as it may trigger unintended consequences such as loss of exemptions, acceleration of tax on triggered capital gains, interference with estate intentions, and vulnerability to the child’s creditors.
  • Assets with designated beneficiaries, like RRSPs or tax-free savings accounts, can bypass probate and pass directly to the beneficiary. Personal life insurance held directly can also play a role in probate planning, as the proceeds can be directed to a designated beneficiary tax-free. If the estate is the named beneficiary, the value will be subject to probate fees.
  • For those with private company shares and loans among their assets, employing dual wills is a strategic option. One will oversee corporate assets, while the other covers personal assets. With this structure, probate fees are only applicable to the personal assets, not the corporate ones. In British Columbia, this arrangement requires different executors for the corporate and personal wills to be effective.
  • Assets held in a trust are exempt from probate. Individuals aged 65 and over can transfer assets into a Joint Partner or Alter Ego Trust without triggering taxes on deemed disposition. While there are costs associated with setting up and maintaining this structure, for sizable asset values, it’s a consideration worth exploring to entirely avoid probate fees on trust-held assets.

Conducting probate planning as part of a comprehensive financial strategy is crucial.

If you’d like to discuss more about this topic, please don’t hesitate to contact me at