Filling out probate or administration forms

If your application for probate or administration is rejected, you can correct the problems and re-apply. But this will cause delays. Here, we walk you through common questions asked about the main forms involved (which you can find here). We also offer some practical tips to make a successful application. Read on to give yourself the best chance of getting that grant the first time around.

Changes to the probate rules

As of December 1, 2021, the probate rules changed. Most of the changes reflect that a will-maker can now prepare and electronically sign a will, with no physical paper copy having to exist. There have also been some changes to the probate forms, such as form P10. If you have any questions about how your probate application might be impacted, you can reach out to the probate registry or a lawyer.

Tips for making a successful application

Double-check your documents before you file

It might sound obvious, but take the time to check over your documents for typos or mistakes. It's one of the main reasons that probate or administration forms are rejected.

Make sure exhibits are properly marked and signed. You’ll need to sign some of the forms in front of a lawyer, notary public, or a commissioner for taking affidavits. When you sign a document in front of them, it means you’re swearing that the information in the document is true.

Don’t leave any questions blank

If there’s nothing to list under one of the fields on a form, write nil or none. Blank spaces may suggest that information is missing.  

Pay attention to timing

The law says you can only file your application with the probate registry 21 days after you’ve given notice to everyone required (using form P1).

Pay close attention to form P2

Many applicants run into trouble when completing the submission for estate grant (form P2). It’s a long form. To avoid making common errors, read our information below on form P2.

Understand whether to file a form P3, P4 or P5

Forms P3, P4 and P5 are alternate versions of the affidavit of applicant form. We have more information on what form to use below.

Give notice to the Public Guardian and Trustee, if needed

If you need to give notice to the Public Guardian and Trustee (using form P1), then they must comment on your application. The written comments will be sent to you and you must file them with the court. The probate registry cannot issue you a grant until they receive the comments. Let’s turn now to form P1, where (among other things) we explain when you must notify the Public Guardian and Trustee.

Notice of proposed application (form P1)

Why do I need to complete this form?

This form notifies certain people that you’re intending to apply for probate or administration.

Do I need to send anything with the form P1?

Yes, if you're intending to apply for probate, you must attach a copy of the will. You also need to attach any other testamentary documents. Examples include documents (other than wills) where the deceased:

  • gifts an asset or benefit to someone else, upon their death,

  • removes or appoints an executor, or

  • changes their will (such as through a codicil). 

You don’t need to attach life insurance policies.

Who do I need to give notice to?

If you're planning to apply for probate, the law says you must notify the following people that you intend to do so:

  • Anyone named in the will as an executor or alternate executor.

  • Each beneficiary under the will.

  • The spouse and any children of the deceased.

  • Anyone who would have been entitled to a share in the estate if a will didn’t exist. The law says who should legally receive someone’s property if they die without a will. You don’t have to send notice to every possible next-of-kin. For example, say someone dies with a spouse and children. You don’t have to send notice to the deceased’s siblings, parents, or cousins.

  • Anyone who’s served a citation to you in relation to the deceased (such as a citation requiring you to apply for probate).

  • If the deceased was a Nisga'a citizen, the Nisga'a Lisims government. 

  • If the deceased was a member of a treaty first nation, the treaty first nation.

If you're applying for a grant of administration

If you’re making an application for a grant of administration, the notice requirements are different. See applying for a grant of administration.

What if I need to give notice to someone under age 19?

If a person you need to give notice to is a minor, you must give notice:

  • if the minor lives with their parents, to those parents

  • if a parent or guardian is financially responsible for them, to that parent or guardian (if the minor doesn’t live with their parents)

  • if none of the above applies, to the minor at their home address 

You must also give notice to the Public Guardian and Trustee, on behalf of the minor. There’s an exception to this requirement, where a testamentary trust exists and some other criteria are met. If you’re unsure whether you need to give notice to the Public Guardian and Trustee, you can contact them for guidance. 

What if I need to give notice to an adult who is (or may be) mentally incompetent?

In this case you must give notice to all of the following:

  • Their nominee, if they have one. This is someone who’s responsible for the adult’s legal and financial affairs, such as an attorney under a power of attorney.

  • The Public Guardian and Trustee, on the adult’s behalf.

  • The adult themselves, unless they have a committee of estate for them. This is a person or body appointed by the court to make legal and financial decisions for someone who is mentally incapable and cannot manage their own affairs.

Do I have to get confirmation from the people I’ve delivered notice to? 

You generally don’t need confirmation that notice has been received. (The exception is if you deliver the notice electronically, such as by email or fax. In this case, you must receive written confirmation that notice has been received.)

As well, you must wait 21 days after you delivered the required notice before you can file the probate application with the probate registry. This gives each person receiving notice the chance to file a notice of dispute if they oppose your application.

Submission for estate grant (form P2)

Why do I need to complete this form?

This form provides details of your application to the probate registry. 

The deceased went by more than one name over their lifetime. Do I need to include these?

You should put the legal name of the deceased on the form. As well, include any other names they may have used to hold an interest in property. For more on naming the deceased on the form, see this recording at 48:30.

You’ll need to apply for a search of a wills notice (here's the form to do so). The search results will show whether the deceased ever registered any wills with Vital Statistics. You’ll need to submit two copies of the search results and any wills notices to the probate registry. 

Searching for wills notices

Search for wills notices under all names of the deceased:

  • indicated on your form P2

  • used in the will or other testamentary documents, and

  • used to hold real property

The probate registry will expect this. Failing to do this is one of the top reasons why probate applications are rejected.

What if the deceased misspelled an executor or beneficiary’s name in their will?

Perhaps a person named in the will has since gotten married or divorced, and changed their name. Or perhaps the deceased just didn’t know how to spell a name! A misspelled name in the will doesn’t mean that person can’t receive a gift under the will.

Make sure the names used in the application reflect the names used in the will. Failing to do this could mean that your probate form is rejected.

For example, if you’re indicating the name of a beneficiary in form P2, you should write:

Conor Lapierre, named in the will as Connor Lappier  

I can’t find an original copy of the will. Can I file a copy instead?

If you can’t find the originally signed version of the will, then you can submit a copy of the will. 

You’ll need to indicate on form P2 why the original will isn’t available. The probate registry may ask you to provide sworn evidence to prove that it’s a true copy of the original will. 

I’m applying for a grant with another person. Do we each fill out a separate form P2?

You should only submit one form P2, even when there is more than one applicant.

What if the deceased doesn’t currently have a spouse?

If the deceased has no current spouse, you should indicate on the schedule to form P2:

No surviving spouse, as per section 2 of WESA.

You should say if the deceased had a former spouse or deceased spouse. This will help avoid confusion. For example, you can write:

Sarah Sample (current spouse)

Elaine Example (former spouse)

Affidavit of applicant (form P3, P4 or P5) 

Why do I need to complete this form?

This form provides information about you and your relationship to the deceased. 

Which form should I complete — a form P3, P4 or P5?

Form P3 and form P4 are alternate versions of the same form, to be used if you’re applying for a grant of probate or a grant of administration with a will annexed.

Generally, a form P3 should be used for straightforward applications.

A form P4 should be used for applications with more complex issues. Some examples of when you should use a form P4 include:

  • you can’t find the original will, and you’re submitting a copy

  • the original will has been unstapled or re-stapled

  • the original will has other alterations, handwritten additions, or erasures

  • there are issues with the execution of the will

If you’re applying for a grant of administration without will annexed, you’ll have to complete a form P5.

Is it okay to remove staples from the will if I want to make copies of it?

It’s not a good idea to alter an original will in any way. This includes removing or adding staples. 

If you’ve already removed staples from the will, you’ll have to prove the will hasn’t been tampered with. Write down the details: who did it, the date, location, and reason for unstapling the will. You’ll have to fill out a form P4 and swear an additional affidavit explaining how it happened. 

I’m applying for a grant with another person. How do we fill out this form?

If there are multiple people applying for the grant, you can:

  • Have the P3, P4 or P5 sworn by one of the applicants. Each other applicant swears an affidavit in support (form P8).

  • All swear the same P3, P4 or P5 (as applicable). The form would need to be modified.

What if I’m applying as an alternate executor?

It’s important to indicate on the form why the first-named executor isn’t applying. (Failing to do so may cause your application to be rejected.) Some common reasons include that the named executor is:

  • Deceased.

  • Mentally incapable.

  • Simply unwilling to act. In this case, you should obtain a notice of renunciation (form P17) from the named executor, and file it with your application.

What if one of the co-executors doesn’t want to apply for probate?

co-executor is one of two (or more) executors named in a will to carry out its instructions. This is different from an alternate executor. An alternate is like a back-up executor — intended to act only if the first-named executor is unable (or unwilling) to act.

If a co-executor doesn’t want to apply for probate, that person can renounce their executorship (using form P17). This means they’re giving up their right to apply to be executor.

If a co-executor doesn’t renounce, the grant of probate must reserve the right of that person to apply at a later time. It’s a good idea to indicate on your form that the co-executor is not intending to apply or renounce.

Affidavit of delivery (form P9)

Why do I need to complete this form?

This form confirms that you’ve delivered notice of the application to everyone required under the law.

Can I file more than one form P9?

Yes, you can file one or more affidavits of delivery. The forms will collectively confirm that you’ve given notice to everyone you were required to tell about the application. 

Why is it important to indicate that I’ve delivered notice to the Public Guardian and Trustee (if required)?

If the rules say you must deliver notice to the Public Guardian and Trustee, you must say that you’ve done so on the form P9. This tells the probate registry that they must wait for the Public Guardian and Trustee’s comments on your application before the registry issues a grant. 

Affidavit of assets and liabilities (form P10)

Why do I need to complete this form?

This form tells the probate registry about the assets and liabilities of the deceased. The registry uses this form to calculate the probate fees owing. 

What assets do I need to include on the form?

You must list all of the deceased’s assets that will pass to you as the executor (or administrator). That is, any assets that form part of the deceased’s estate.

This includes:

  • all real property

  • all physical assets such as vehicles, boats, furniture, antiques, jewelry, and personal effects

  • all intangible assets such as bank accounts, investments, and company shares

  • all assets such as retirement funds where the estate is the beneficiary

  • an RESP where no one was listed to take over when the deceased died (called a successor subscriber)

There are certain assets that won’t pass to you. For example, assets held in joint tenancy typically pass automatically to the other joint tenant on the deceased’s passing. 

There are also certain assets that will pass directly to a beneficiary that the deceased specifically named, as in a registered retirement plan or life insurance policy.  

The deceased had property located outside of BC. Do I need to list this property?

Usually, you must disclose all of the deceased’s property that will pass to you. (If the deceased didn’t ordinarily live in BC, and you’re completing a form P11, you only need to disclose property that’s within BC.)

What value do I use for the deceased’s assets?

The form P10 requires you to list all of the deceased’s assets and the value of each. Wherever possible, you should provide the market value of each asset. The asset should be valued as at the date of death (not at the time you submit the probate application). For more on this point — and other aspects of completing the form P10 — see this recording at 50:20.

What if someone refuses to give me information about the deceased’s assets?

Someone holding the deceased’s assets (such as a bank) may refuse to give you any information. If this happens, you can still apply for probate or administration. 

File all of the other application documents, except for the form P10. At the same time, you can apply for authorization to obtain estate information using form P18. If the court grants your request, third parties must give you information relating to the deceased’s assets, when you present them with form P18.

What liabilities do I need to disclose on form P10?

When you’re listing debts, you only need to list secured debts. These are debts that charge or encumber the deceased’s assets. The most common examples are a mortgage on a home, or a car loan. If someone fails to make payments on a mortgage, the bank has the right to sell the home.

You also don’t need to include expenses or liabilities that arise after death (such as funeral expenses) on the form P10. Note however that these kinds of expenses do reduce the value of the estate, so you should include them in your accounting to beneficiaries.

What if I discover more assets after I’ve already submitted the application?

If the information you provided on the form P10 was incorrect or incomplete, you can let the registry know by later filing form P14. If you discover additional assets, you may need to pay additional probate fees.

  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed for legal accuracy in April 2020
  • Time to read: 12 minutes

Reviewed for legal accuracy by

Stephen Hsia, Miller Thomson

Stephen Hsia

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