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A change is coming to estate law that will promote a faster turnaround and remove obstacles for grieving families in Ontario.

Posted on February 22, 2021 at 1:10 PM

As of April 1, 2021, Ontario will enact the Small Estates probate for the Small Estates Certificate (SEC).


In Ontario, probate – the in-court process of validating a will and its trustees – has historically applied to all estates, regardless of value.


However, Ontario courts have acknowledged that probate places a significant strain on the financial and energetic resources of grieving individuals. The complexity and expense of probate often dissuades one entirely from rightfully applying for estate authority.


The new Small Estates process will provide eligible applicants with an expedited and user-friendly alternative to traditional probate.


Provided that the estate in question – that is, the total value of the deceased’s land, possessions and other assets – is valued at CAD$150,000 or less, applicants may pursue an SEC in place of the standard Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee (CAET).


The SEC gives authority to the trustees named to administer the estate assets outlined in the probate application.


The Small Estates probate expands public access and improves court efficiency. Applicants will be extended a simplified, streamlined application accompanied by a reduced quantity of supporting documents. This approach will promote accuracy in filing and significantly lower the volume of court-reviewable paperwork.


This new addition to estate law is a part of a modernization that the Ontario courts are undergoing to improve accessibility and general understanding of the justice system.

Written by Agatha Humfrey, paralegal student, Dwyer Law Office


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