When an executor starts administering an estate, probate is a prime concern. In Ontario, some of the common estate administration questions surrounding probate involve issues of locale. These can arise when a deceased person held assets in another province or country, or if the beneficiaries or executor live in a different jurisdiction other than the testator.
In the estate planning stage, it can be more convenient and simple for the testator to choose an executor who lives close by. If an executor lives in another province, he or she cannot simply choose to probate the will in his or her own province. In most cases, the process must take place in the jurisdiction where the testator lived.
The question of where to probate a will can also arise in cases where the executor is also a beneficiary, such as a son or daughter. This individual may live in another jurisdiction where probate fees are lower than in the testator’s home province. However, the executor cannot probate the will in his or her own province with a view toward saving on probate fees and preserving a greater portion of the estate.
Another scenario involves estate assets located elsewhere. For example, a deceased may have lived in one location, owned a cottage in a neighbouring province and also had a recreational property in a foreign country. In such a case, the will may have to be probated in multiple jurisdictions.
It’s easy to see why wills involving geographically diverse beneficiaries, executors and assets can become complex to administer. Executors may wish to explore their options and outsource some of the tasks associated with out-of-jurisdiction elements, as it can be a difficult process to oversee from afar. In either case, a prudent executor seeks professional legal advice to carry out his or her duties and to reduce the possibility of liability.