After someone dies, the courts must decide who will become the rightful owner of the assets he or she leaves behind. This typically happens through the probate process. To begin probate, it is often necessary to apply to the court for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee.
If approved, this certificate gives the applicant legal authority to manage the estate through probate. The deceased’s will may name a trustee, but if not, a relative may start the process.
Applying for a certificate is not necessary in every case, such as when the estate’s assets are minimal and pass directly to someone who has the right of survivorship.
Many people do not have a will, unfortunately. In this case, and in cases where there are likely to be disputes about the will, a probate certificate may be required. To obtain a certificate and begin the probate process, the applicant will need the following:
- Completed forms from a nearby Ontario courthouse, which should include information about the assets in the estate as well as any beneficiaries
- A death certificate, which the funeral director may issue
- Any documentation that explains or clarifies the deceased’s wishes
- The will of the deceased
It is important not to assume the deceased had no will. If you are applying for a certificate for your loved one, you should first check their home, bank safety deposit boxes, private will registries and the lawyer of your loved one. After gathering and filing these documents, you should hear within 15 days whether the court has approved the Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee. Approval means that the complex work of probate may begin.