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Corporate / Estate Litigation / Wills, Estates & Probate / Real Estate


Do You Have To Probate a Will in Alberta?

Do you have to probate a will in Alberta? Not necessarily.

Probate isn’t always required, especially for small, straightforward estates. If there are third parties involved, such as financial institutions or the land titles office, you will have to contact them to find out whether they will allow you to forego probate and, if so, what they will need to get assurance.

The answer to the question “do you have to probate a will in Alberta” really depends on the amount and/or complexity of the estate. If it’s a very simple estate and all assets are jointly owned, probate can often be avoided.

A common example is when the surviving spouse simply becomes the sole owner of the assets since everything is already in both names.

When is Probate Required?

Usually you have no choice but to go through probate. Banks and other financial institutions often require you to go through probate so they know that the will is valid and they are not going to be surprised by another will later on.

Generally, you have to probate a will in Alberta if:

  • There is no surviving spouse as a joint tenant.
  • The assets, notably real estate, are in the name of the deceased only.
  • There is a substantial amount of money in bank accounts and other investments.
  • There are questions about the validity of the will, or there is no will.
  • The estate is the beneficiary of benefits from registered retirement plans.

Do You Have to Probate?

If it’s not clear whether or not you have to probate the will, you need to meet with your estate lawyer to go over the will. Your lawyer can help you determine if there are any issues with the will and any assets that require probate.

If you think family members may challenge the will, bring this up with your lawyer. When a will is going to be contested, it is best to have it go through probate so that you can prove the will is valid and that you are entitled to act as the personal representative.

(Note: the term “personal representative” is the current legal term used to refer to an executor/executrix, administrator/administratix, and judicial trustee.)

Do I Have to Go to Probate Court?

Some people ask “Do I have to go to probate court?” The process of obtaining a Grant of Probate requires you to submit a number of documents, including the will, to the court. The court will review everything and, if you’ve filled all the forms out correctly and the court agrees with everything, issue the grant.

The Grant of Probate is legal proof that the will is valid and that you are entitled, as the personal representative, to act for the deceased. Typically, there is no reason to personally appear in court.


Words cannot express how grateful and thankful our family is for the attention and many hours of detailed work that was completed over the past year by J. E. Fletcher Professional Corporation to handle the execution of probate of our parents estate.
We are very happy our parents selected John Fletcher to fulfill all the legal requirements to get closure on this part of the estate settlements. Our family is in total agreement that our parents would have been very glad to know their wishes were looked after exactly as they requested and with no difficulties for any of us. It made our lives much easier.
Again thank you — we want you to know we appreciated all the support we received from you, John. We would definitely recommend J. E. Fletcher Professional Corporation to others who may require legal assistance and/or representation.

- The Basil and Bettie Bell Family