I’ve been named estate trustee in a will. How do I apply for a certificate?

As an named in a will, you may have to probate the will. Probate is a process that asks the court to confirm that a will is valid and that the trustee has the right to deal with the estate. If the court agrees, you get a certificate.

Not all wills have to be probated. If the estate is small and does not include any , the will may be enough. But you may have to probate if, for example:

  • a bank or another financial institution asks for probate to release money in the person's bank account
  • there is real property that you need to sell
  • family, relatives, or friends disagree about whether the will is valid

Duties of an estate trustee

There's information about the other duties of an estate trustee in I’ve been named an estate trustee in a will. What do I have to do? For example, you may also have to:

  • arrange for the funeral and burial or cremation
  • stop payments that end on death, like Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS), social assistance, and disability insurance payments
  • cancel the person's driver's licence, and their Social Insurance Number (SIN) and Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) cards
  • find and value all in the estate
  • pay any taxes and that are owed
  • file tax returns
  • distribute the property in the estate based on what the will says

Process you follow

How you apply for probate depends on the value of the estate. If the value of the estate is:

Before you apply, it's a good idea to check if anyone else has started a probate application or has been given a certificate.

Get legal help

The steps to probate a will can be complicated. You may want to get help from an estates lawyer and from an accountant. Their fees are usually paid from the estate if they're reasonable.

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