Qualified Probate Lawyers

At Schnell Hardy Jones LLP, our lawyers can help remove the uncertainty of handling a loved one’s estate when they have passed away. We provide advice and direction to personal representatives (executors) and assist them in the management of the estate, including ensuring timely distribution. Our probate lawyers in Red Deer look forward to your call.

Probate refers to a court process where the authority of a personal representative named in a valid will is formally acknowledged, allowing them to deal with a deceased person’s estate. A similar process is followed in case of intestacy, where there is no valid will, and in that case, the people with priority to be appointed as the personal representative(s) (in accordance with the legislation) apply to obtain a grant of administration. Dealing with the passing of a loved one is difficult enough without having to figure out how to obtain a grant of probate/administration.

Probate is essential for real property, such as land and buildings, condominiums, and mines and mineral titles held in the deceased’s sole name. It is also often required to deal with personal property, such as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, shares in a privately held corporation, or investments (registered and non-registered), again held solely by the deceased and where there is no beneficiary designation.

An application for probate/administration must be submitted to the court for consideration by a Justice. The application contains all the relevant information that the court requires to be assured of the personal representative’s proper authority. It also identifies the proper beneficiaries of the estate, and any other person who might have an interest in the estate, as well as lists the assets and debts of the deceased. The application must be served on any parties with a specific interest in the estate. Upon approval of the application, the court issues a grant of probate/administration.

If a deceased person resided in Alberta at the time of death and had property in Alberta that requires a grant before it can be transferred or liquidated, the grant application must be made to the judicial centre where the deceased resided prior to death. If the deceased didn’t reside in Alberta, then the proper judicial centre in Alberta would be where the property is located.

If a deceased person from Alberta owned property in other provinces or elsewhere in the world, it may be necessary to apply to obtain a grant in that other jurisdiction, or have the Alberta grant re-filed in the second jurisdiction, depending on what is needed to manage the estate property.

Lawyers in Alberta can obtain a grant from any judicial centre in Alberta, so if your loved one lived in another part of the province, our probate lawyers can still assist you.

In limited circumstances, it may be appropriate to plan your estate to avoid probate. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits with one of our probate lawyers in Red Deer before taking any steps to transfer assets into joint names.

However, you need to carefully consider the benefits of avoiding probate along with the inherent risks of co-owning property in order to avoid probate. As soon as you co-own your property with another person, you lose control over your property and you also risk exposure of liability to the joint owner’s creditors.

In some situations, you might also suffer unintended tax implications, resulting in either you or the other owner triggering tax consequences during lifetime rather than after the owner’s death. Sometimes, the risk of adding other owners to your property outweighs the benefits of avoiding probate.

Between spouses, the risks are minimized as the property is generally ‘family property’ that both spouses have a claim to in any event, and creditors of one spouse are likewise creditors of both due to the family property legislation. Further, it is very common for the spouse to be the primary residuary beneficiary in any event, and there are provisions in the Income Tax Act for a tax deferred rollover between spouses that negates most of the income tax concerns.

Book an Appointment with Our Probate Lawyers

If you are unsure about dealing with a probate/administration application, reach out to our expert probate lawyers in Red Deer for help. Our team strives to make this experience as stress-free as possible for you by guiding you through every step of the process.

We also specialize in family law, criminal law, real estate transactions, and corporate commercial matters. Contact us today to discuss your case.

Schnell Hardy Jones Lawyer Evan Hardy

Evan C. Hardy

Email: Evan@schnell-law.com

Schnell Hardy Jones Lawyer Trista Carey

Trista D. Carey

Email: Trista@schnell-law.com