When a loved one passes away, the process of settling their estate can be a difficult and time-consuming ordeal.
In Ontario, the timeline for estate settling can vary depending on a number of factors, including the size of the estate, the complexity of any legal issues, and the availability of the executor.
Here is a guide to help you understand the estimated timeline for estate settling in Ontario.
Step 1: The Executor’s Duties
The first step in settling an estate is for the executor to take control of the deceased’s assets and begin the process of administering the estate. This involves identifying all the assets and liabilities of the estate, notifying the beneficiaries and creditors, and paying any debts or taxes owed.
Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, this process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. If the executor is also dealing with legal issues, such as disputes over the will or estate litigation, the process can take even longer.
Step 2: Probate
In Ontario, probate is the process of proving that a will is valid and obtaining a court order that confirms the appointment of the executor. If the deceased had a will and the assets of the estate are over a certain threshold, probate is required by law.
The probate process can take up to several months to complete, as the executor must file an application with the court, pay any required fees, and provide various documents and information.
Step 3: Estate Taxes
Once the executor has identified all the assets and liabilities of the estate, they must determine if any estate taxes are owed. In Ontario, there is no provincial estate tax, but the estate may be subject to federal estate taxes if its value is over a certain threshold.
If taxes are owed, the executor must file a final tax return for the deceased and pay any taxes owing. This process can take several months to complete, as the executor must wait for any outstanding tax assessments and obtain clearance certificates from the Canada Revenue Agency.
Step 4: Distribution of Assets
Once all the debts and taxes of the estate have been paid, the executor can distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. This process can take several months to complete, depending on the number of beneficiaries and the complexity of the assets.
If the estate includes real estate, the executor must also transfer ownership of the property to the beneficiaries, which can take additional time and legal processes.
Step 5: Final Accounting
Once all the assets have been distributed, the executor must provide a final accounting of the estate to the beneficiaries. This report outlines all the assets, liabilities, and expenses of the estate, as well as the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries.
This process can take several months to complete, as the executor must ensure that all the details are accurate and that the beneficiaries have received their fair share of the estate.
Settling an estate in Ontario can take anywhere from several months to several years, depending on the size and complexity of the estate, as well as any legal issues that arise. It is important to work with an experienced estate lawyer and accountant to ensure that all the legal requirements are met and that the estate is settled as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If you are an executor or beneficiary of an estate in Ontario and need help navigating the process, Ontario Wills can help. We are a qualified estate planning attorney that can guide you through each step and help you settle the estate as smoothly as possible. Get in touch with us today to learn how.