Being an Estate Trustee is a very challenging and emotionally draining task. Effective January 1st, 2015 that task became even more challenging and certainly more complicated with a new set of rules being enforced. Understanding the new process and how it works, can be a daunting task for anyone, especially for those who have never been through it.
It used to be that determining the value of an estate for probate purposes was relatively straightforward. The estate administrator could provide, through a sworn affidavit, a single estimated amount representing the total value of the deceased’s estate without any supporting documentation and it would be generally accepted. After review of this “simple” process, it was decided that people were likely underestimating total estate asset values and therefore not paying the correct amount of tax.
It is now the Estate Administrators responsibility to apply for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee With (or Without) a Will and file an Estate Information Return with the Ministry of Finance within 90 Calendar days of the Certificate of Appointment being issued by the government. You must also have documents to support your appraisals/assessments.
You may be wondering what assets need to be included in this estate administration tax. The answer is ALL of them, well almost all of them. Everything from investment portfolios to mutual funds, to pension funds, to life insurances, to shares of companies, to vehicles and even household goods (e.g. jewelry, paintings, antiques, coin collections)!
All that being said, there are some exceptions to the rule that you should be aware of. These exceptions include real estate outside of Ontario, assets that are owned jointly with another person and passing by survivorship, CPP death benefit and assets that pass outside the estate (e.g. TFSAs and life insurance policies where there is a living named beneficiary).
If you are going through this process, be sure to protect yourself by getting professionals involved. Probate is a very serious process and you should keep in mind that the inventory of estate assets that you provide can be seen by the judge, accountant, lawyers and beneficiaries involved. In order to avoid legal, or family difficulties, rely on trusted professionals. Real Estate Appraisers, Estate Lawyers, Personal Property Appraisers, Financial Advisors are just a few of the professionals who can help.
Transition Squad Regional Manager