How dual wills could help you save on probate fees:

Do you own shares in a private company? Are you looking for savings when your assets pass to your heirs? Dual wills could potentially save you money on probate fees. Under WESA (Wills, Estates and Succession Act) in BC, dual wills are a great estate planning opportunity.

Probate Fees & Grant of Probate

Probate fees apply when the will maker dies, and an application is made to the court to probate the deceased’s will.  The grant of probate confirms the will is valid and that the executor appointed by the deceased has authority to deal with the estate. The court requires that the probate fee of 1.4% apply to the value of the assets, and the fee must be paid in full before the court will issue the grant of probate.

Dual Wills

Setting up dual wills is an effective strategy to save on these probate fees. One will, let’s call it the restricted will, can deal with assets that don’t require a grant of probate, such as private company shares, and a second will, let’s call it the general will, can deal with all the remaining assets of the estate that require a grant of probate. For example, if the will maker owns private company shares valued at $5,000,000, and these shares are governed by the restricted will, then the estate can ultimately save $70,000 in probate fees.

Executors

It’s important to note that the dual wills strategy requires the will maker appoint separate executors for each of the restricted will and the general will. The executor applying for probate is required to disclose all assets passing to the executor to administer. Therefore, if the will maker appoints the same executor for both wills, the probate savings will not apply.

We recommend consulting a lawyer before moving forward with this strategy as there are certain complexities in dual wills that need to be addressed in order to save on probate fees.

For more information, or if you are in need of a will or require any estate planning work, please contact us at [email protected]

Glossary:

Estate: All land, possessions, and other assets an individual owns.

Executor: Person appointed to administer deceased’s estate and carry out their last wishes.

Probate: Legal process to review and determine whether a will is valid.

Will: Legal document communicating a person’s last wishes as to how their property is to be distributed at death.