Probate: A Step-by-Step Guide

  • Recorded on: December 5, 2023

  • Length: 60 minutes


Lawyer Jessica Poon and Jasmine Ng of the court registry take you through the probate process from start to finish, and answer questions about common challenges you may experience along the way.


In this webinar, you will learn:

Initial steps (pre-probate)

  • The first step to take when someone passes away and you think you have been named as the executor. [3:20]

  • The first things an executor should do, including to arrange the funeral and protect the estate assets. [5:20]

Applying for probate or administration

  • Whether you can deal with the banks without applying for probate, and how to know if probate is or is not required. [7:25]

  • Who you need to notify when you apply for probate. [11:15]

  • Whether you need a lawyer to prepare your court forms, plus guidance and tips for completing the forms on your own. [13:00]

  • The level of detail required for an affidavit of assets and liabilities. [19:30]

  • What happens after you file the court documents, how long it will take to hear back, and what happens if you make a mistake. [22:10]

  • How probate fees work. [26:35]

Other aspects of handling the estate

  • How to deal with debts and taxes after the grant of probate is made. [27:50]

  • The process for accounting to beneficiaries and heirs. [30:00]

  • What happens if you try to distribute estate assets to a beneficiary and can’t find them. [33:30]

  • How to put an official end to your executor duties after you distribute the estate assets. [35:30]

Live questions

  • Tax considerations to be aware of when disbursing estate funds to a beneficiary who is a non-resident of Canada. [37:10]

  • Whether you can send notice of a probate application to a beneficiary who has Alzheimer’s by sending the notice to a person the beneficiary named as attorney under a power of attorney. [37:55]

  • What happens if a will names two co-executors and one alternate, and one of the co-executors and the alternate renounce their roles. [40:50]

  • How long it takes to complete the probate application. [42:40]

  • Whether an attorney named under the power of attorney of a person who has died can use the deceased person’s funds to pay their care home bill. [44:35]

  • Whether, when appointing two children as executors and one of them lives in British Columbia and the other lives in the UK, the latter child’s non-resident status will create problems during probate. [45:50]

  • Whether, when submitting a probate application, the two copies of the will that are required by the court need to be notarized. [48:20]

  • Whether a form P4 (the affidavit to use where there are issues with the will) is needed if the original will was never stapled but had a plastic spine that has been taken off. [48:55]

  • Whether the misspelling of a will-maker’s name in the will might be a problem during probate. [49:55]

  • What to say in an application for administration when you are unable to find a will. [51:05]

  • Whether a gravesite is a tangible asset. [52:10]

  • Whether the applicant’s personal contact information in court documents is available to the public. [53:00]

  • Whether beneficiaries are entitled to receive a copy of the affidavit of assets and liabilities. [53:55]

Concluding tips

  • The importance of staying organized when you are an executor. [54:35]

  • The importance of following the checklist provided by the court registry to correct any mistakes on your probate application. [56:45]


Jessica Poon

Jessica Poon

Jessica is a lawyer at Westcoast Wills & Estates. Jessica’s current practice focuses on family law and estate planning and administration. She assists clients with preparing wills, trusts, powers of attorney, representation agreements, cohabitation/marriage agreements, and separation agreements. She also assists clients with court applications for uncontested divorces and probate and related matters. Jessica is fluent in Cantonese and speaks conversational Mandarin.

Jasmine Ng

Jasmine Ng

Jasmine Ng is a deputy district registrar and a registrar in bankruptcy of the BC Supreme Court. She is located at the Vancouver Law Courts, Probate and Bankruptcy Department.

Attendee feedback

“Wonderful speakers and facilitation!“

“I thought the speakers did a great job of helping to make a complex and difficult topic reasonably accessible.“

“List of tips from the district registrar was great practical information.“

"Having the registry woman combined with a lawyer was great as this is a very specific process with the court."

“Such incredibly valuable webinars thank you!“

“It was a great webinar, thank you Jasmine and Jessica, their answers were really helpful!“

“The webinar was loaded with very useful information. THANK YOU to the People's Law School for offering all these very informative webinars. Much appreciated!“

Additional resources

From People’s Law School:

The forms:

The rules and laws:


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