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Probate fees on estate can be determined by legislation

Probate fees are defined as valuing all of the assets of your estate. What assets are included in determining the value of your estate for probate fee purposes? How is the value of your assets determined?

When you seek to set up an estate plan, you need to be aware that probate fees may come up. There is a myth surrounding these fees that there is an already-made-up list somewhere. This isn't true. Each of the provinces, including British Columbia, has provincial legislation and this provides the value at which your estate will be determined. For example, in British Columbia, the Ministry of the Attorney General has a guideline to assess probate fees. If you have property here, you may end up paying probate fees on it, however getting a lawyer involved who has experience with estate planning can help.

Do you have a will in place? This may or may not help you with probate fees. If it is written well and follows the letter of the law, you may avoid paying higher fees. Are all your assets included in the will? This also may make a huge difference in what you or your estate pays.

Determining the asset value of your estate can be tricky and may require input from a legal representative who has knowledge in this area. The term "all of the estate" comes into play. Fair market value is used to determine the value of any property, company or asset that you own. The value of real estate can be complicated, but generally the gross worth is used, not the net value. In other words, if you owe money on property, you can pay it off with the funds received from the sale, however, your fees will be based on the received amount.

Research can be a valuable thing. Knowing a bit about estate administration and probate fees can empower you know what you need to do to pay as few fees as possible. Consulting a professional can also help.

Source: Manulife Financial, "Probate Fees: Valuing the Assets of the Estate," accessed Aug. 20, 2015

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