Questions on Estate Administration
Does every estate need to be probated?
No. Whether probate is required will depend on the type of assets owned by the deceased and how ownership of those assets was registered.
The following assets do not require probate. This also means that the provisions of any will do not apply to these assets:
The only asset which absolutely requires probate is an interest in land (this includes mineral rights) with the deceased being the sole owner or one of the tenants in common. The property cannot be transferred from the name of the deceased without Letters Probate or Letters of Administration regardless of the value of the property. If Letters Probate or Letters of Administration are required the applicant must set out all of the assets held in the deceased's name in part 1 of the Statement of Assets.
For all other financial assets, the need for probate will depend upon the policies of the financial institution where the assets are held. In many cases, if the amount of the bank account or financial instrument is relatively small and the family of the deceased is known to the financial institution, it may not require Letters Probate or Letters of Administration before transferring the assets of the deceased.
Accordingly, if the deceased was not the sole owner of an interest in land, your first step should be to ask the bank, credit union or trust company where the deceased had assets whether they will require probate before transferring the assets of the deceased.