Can you choose which province to probate a will to save on probate fees?

The wrong way to save on probate fees

You can’t save by choosing a province with lower probate fees

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Q: Can I choose what province I probate a will in? I live in Manitoba and the province has relatively high probate fees. I’m an executor of a substantial estate. What do I need to do to be able to probate the will in Quebec where there are next to no probate fees? I think I need to relocate there, but for how long?  The Yukon is inexpensive too. Even Alberta and Newfoundland are much cheaper than Manitoba.

—Namina N.

A: Your question is clever. Can executors choose where to probate wills? Executors don’t make this decision. Where to probate wills is not determined by where the executor lives. Instead, it depends on where the deceased person lived and has assets. Executors cannot choose to probate wills in provinces with lower provincial probate taxes. Let’s begin by explaining probate.

Probate is usually required to sell a deceased’s person’s property. When persons die, their will assets are frozen. Courts confirm who legally represents their estates as executors. This legal process involves probating wills. That’s when provincial governments charge estate administration or probate taxes.  In Ontario, these are calculated at roughly 1.5% of will assets.

 READ: Is a will without witnesses valid?

Where people live and have assets are both important for probate. Your Florida condo is controlled by Florida’s estate laws. Executors must follow local estate rules to probate wills in Florida.

Persons frequently have to probate wills in more than one jurisdiction. Normally, probate rules are set by jurisdictions where assets are located and persons lived. Alberta may specify who can serve as executors in that jurisdiction. Local laws control property within their borders. Executors thus may need legal advice from lawyers in several jurisdiction

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What if a person lived and died in Vancouver? Executors cannot probate their wills in Nova Scotia. Executors must probate wills where deceased persons resided. There is a good reason for this. That is likely where their friends, relatives, and creditors reside. What if your will must be interpreted or becomes contested? These people would not have to travel to Nova Scotia for court hearings.

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