Small estate changes a small step in the right direction

Probate just got a little easier for some small estates. 

The provincial government recently announced that it would raise the limit for those considered “small estates” from $50,000 to $150,000.  

“Right now, the process to apply to manage an estate in Ontario is the same, whether the estate is worth $10,000 or $10,000,000. The process can be time consuming and costly, deterring people from claiming smaller estates – and that isn’t right,” said Attorney General Doug Downey in a statement announcing the news. “To ease the burden on grieving loved ones and ensure fairness for everyone regardless of the size of an estate, the government is making the process to claim a small estate faster, easier and less costly for Ontarians.” 

Unfortunately, the news won’t result in any tax savings, since probate fees of 1.5 per cent are still due on all estate assets above $50,000.  

However, it’s aim is to make the process a bit more straightforward for estates that can get under the new $150,000 limit, because small estates benefit from a simpler application form, less strict standards for supporting documents, and exemption from the requirement to post a bond. 

This is a step in the right direction, although it may be of limited value in places like Toronto, where higher property values and cost of living make $150,000 feel much smaller than for those living elsewhere in the province. 

Still, I think there’s a lot more the government could be doing to improve the probate experience for trustees and beneficiaries of all estates.  

For a start, more investment in the court’s estate office would be very welcome. The office is horribly overburdened, which means it can take months before a certificate of appointment is issued to confirm trustees and allow them to get on with the business of administering the estate and distributing assets.

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Jacob Manishevitz is a mortgage agent with iBridge Capital. His brokerage donates to several charities that range from providing drinkable water to people in need in developing countries; and supporting important organizations by way of activity-based fundraising. If you are looking for worthwhile causes and want to jump on board, please reach out to Jacob.

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