Ontario Executors Require Answers to Questions: What assets are included for probate purposes?

What assets are included for probate purposes?

Not all assets must go through probate. If you are married and acting as executor for your spouse, you will be relieved to know this.

Certain assets are not included in the probate process:

1. Jointly owned assets like joint bank accounts pass to the surviving joint owner by right of survivorship. This requires that the deceased owner did not retain any beneficial interest in the joint assets. Usually legal advice is required to determine this issue. A difference of opinion usually arises in such cases.

2. Designated assets like life insurance, an RRSP, or RRIF pass to the beneficiary and bypass probate, unless payable to the estate.

3. Designated assets such as pensions, RRIFs and RRSPs with named beneficiaries (other than the deceased’s estate) bypass probate. These assets may also create income tax liabilities for the estate that you must consider.

In the case of both joint and designated assets, transferring the assets merely requires production of a death certificate and filling out a form.

The will does not have to be probated for these designated and joint assets to be transferred.

Ontario has a new probate tax system. As of January 1, 2015, executors must include the value of all assets to calculate provincial estates taxes. Read more about Estate Information Returns (EIRs) here.

Ontario has, for years, allowed a probate-saving practice to develop. This allows for a person to use two wills. One will covers assets that can be transferred without probate.


About Edward Olkovich

I am a Toronto estate lawyer and Certified Specialist in Estates and Trusts Law. I edit Carswell’s legal guide Compensation and Duties of Estate Trustees, Guardians and Attorneys. I have handled estate disputes and probate problems since 1978. © 2015