New changes will make Ontario’s probate process for small estates more accessible for grieving families
TORONTO — The Ontario government is easing the burden on those grieving the loss of a loved one by simplifying the process to apply to manage small estates. The changes, which include setting the limit for a small estate at $150,000, will help people receive their inheritances faster and make Ontario’s probate process for small estates simpler and more accessible.
“Right now, the process to apply to manage an estate in Ontario is the same, whether the estate is worth $10,000 or $10,000,000. The process can be time consuming and costly, deterring people from claiming smaller estates – and that isn’t right,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “To ease the burden on grieving loved ones and ensure fairness for everyone regardless of the size of an estate, the government is making the process to claim a small estate faster, easier and less costly for Ontarians.”
On April 1, 2021, Ontario is setting the limit for a small estate at $150,000 and removing the requirement to post a bond in most small estate probate applications.
Introduced in the Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, these changes will make it easier to file a probate application for a small estate that may otherwise go unclaimed. Amendments to simplify small estate procedures will also help people confirm their legal authority to manage an estate faster while ensuring safeguards are in place to protect minors and vulnerable people who have an interest in an estate.
“We have heard from people across Ontario that the justice system has grown too complex and outdated,” said Attorney General Downey. “Now, more than ever, is the time to boldly press forward with changes that simplify processes and increase access to justice. These changes will move the estates sector forward in Ontario, ensure fairness and save families time and money.”
Establishing new and innovative ways of delivering services remotely, in-person and online will help address dated processes that put a strain on the justice system and contribute to delays and longer than necessary wait times for families. These changes build on the government’s work with justice partners to simplify other processes for small estates, including:
- allowing for the completion and filing of a new simpler application form;
- removing requirements for certain supporting documents to be filed (for example, a commissioned affidavit of service); and,
- guiding applicants on the process to file a probate application for a small estate.
- An estate consists of the money, belongings, real estate and other assets and liabilities someone leaves behind when they pass away.
- Probate is the name for the steps taken to validate the will, where one exists, and confirm or establish the authority of the estate trustee to act on behalf of the estate.
- Recent changes to the Estates Act were made through the Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, which includes amendments to more than 20 acts to update old laws and streamline processes so justice works better for Ontarians.