Estates & Wills & Trusts

Advisory group looking at simplified probate process

Toronto trusts and estates lawyer Ian M. Hull believes "it’s time to simplify the procedure for administering small estates in Ontario," says a recent Lawyers Weekly article.

Hull is a member of the Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) advisory group, which is looking at the need for a simplified probate process for small estates in Ontario. He tells the publication that outdated rules and probate fees can be an unnecessary burden if not done at the time the will was executed.

“The problem is that people receiving money are mostly in modest situations who really need it, and nitpicking proof to make sure a will is properly executed is just hanging on to old rules,” he tells Lawyers Weekly.

Hull, co-founder of Hull & Hull LLP, says that while LCO has not yet defined what a small estate is, whatever amount is chosen "should be set by regulation and adjustable over time rather than by statute," the article states.

Banks may sometimes accept wills without probate where the amount is small or where the executor indemnifies the bank. Hull says the advisory group has discussed the idea of approving a will with relaxed evidentiary or procedural requirements, “however, if the banks don’t accept this shortcut approach, then it’s all for naught,” he tells Lawyers Weekly.

The advisory group has released a consultation paper, and is soliciting feedback until Dec. 11, 2014.

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