Probate and Estate Administration


Taking on the executor role of an estate also means taking on significant legal and financial obligations.

Executors have a fiduciary duty to the estate’s beneficiaries, which means that at all times, the executor must make decisions in the best interest of those beneficiaries. If an executor were to violate this fiduciary duty by acting in their own interests, they would face serious financial and legal consequences.

If you have been appointed an executor, it is best to consult with a Whitby probate lawyer as soon as possible. If you have never acted as an executor before, there may be responsibilities you are not aware of, including mandatory duties that must be completed within certain time frames.

The Whitby estates lawyers at Derfel Estate Law advise executors and help them carry out their duties. We provide our clients with personalized and comprehensive services, taking the time to understand your situation and your desired outcomes.

Estate Administration in Ontario

Estate administration is the process of organizing and distributing the assets of an estate to the beneficiaries.  The executor is responsible for estate administration.

Where a valid will exists, the executor will distribute assets per the terms stipulated in the will. Where no valid will exists, the assets will be distributed based on “intestacy rules” under the Succession Law Reform Act, which lays out a strict hierarchy of who may be entitled to what.

Probate in Ontario 

Probate refers to the formal court process through which an executor’s authority to act on behalf of the deceased is confirmed.

Through probate, a court approves a testator’s will and formally confirms it as their last will and testament and, subsequently, appoints the individual who will act as the testator.

When Should Probate Take Place?

Probate is not required in every instance, and not every executor must go through the probate process.

Probate should take place where:

  • Court approval is needed to validate a will.
  • There is a dispute over who the executor should be.
  • Proof of an executor’s authority is required for a third party (e.g. a bank that needs to release funds, a land registry office that needs probate before land can be transferred from the deceased’s name into the name of someone else).

Probate Costs 

In Ontario, probate fees are $250 for the first $50,000 of the estate, and $15 for every $1000 thereafter (with no upper limit).

Where probate is required, probate fees are taken out of the estate before any assets are distributed to beneficiaries.

It is possible to significantly reduce, or even avoid, probate fees through guidance from a strategic and knowledgeable estates lawyer.

Derfel Estate Law: Advising Executors on Probate and Estate Administration

If you have been appointed an executor, the Whitby probate lawyers at Derfel Estate Law can advise and guide you on all aspects of estate administration, including determining whether or not probate is required, or assisting you if it is. Call us at 289-638-3171 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.