How To Probate A Will In Alberta Without A Lawyer

You can handle probating a will in Alberta without a lawyer, but it needs careful attention to detail and following the legal process. Although hiring a lawyer is usually suggested for navigating complexities, you can do it yourself to save on legal fees. Alberta’s process involves several steps, from filing the necessary documents to obtaining the Grant of Probate. This guide will provide an overview of the essential steps to probate a will in Alberta without a lawyer.

When Is Probate Required In Alberta?

Smaller estates with appropriate planning can typically avoid probate. However, there is yet to be a clear answer. Avoiding probate is determined by the size of the estate, if there is joint ownership of property, the number of creditors and beneficiaries, the possibility of opposing the will, and whether banks and financial organizations holding assets need probate to release the funds.

Can I Probate My Will Without a Lawyer?

In simple cases, you can prove a will on your own if you educate yourself and seek professional help when necessary. Handling probate will save you money because you will not have to hire an estate lawyer to accomplish everything. However, remember that making a mistake may result in a higher expense than you can afford.

When examining the question, you must compare the amount of work and potentially specialist knowledge required against the legal fees. What potential issues could arise?

If you have the original copy of the will or if it is clear, the probate process may be easier to navigate with legal assistance. If the will is contested or if some of the beneficiaries are dissatisfied with what is given to them in the will, you may face considerable issues.

A lawyer can provide you peace of mind, lower your chance of being held personally accountable, and keep the process moving forward if anything unexpected happens during estate administration. The fee will vary based on whether you need non-core services and which estate lawyer you choose. Whether you hire a lawyer for advice and guidance or manage the probate procedure, ensure you find someone well-versed in estate law. Relying on a lawyer who only partially grasps estate law is the same as doing probate yourself, except you must pay the lawyer.

How Long Does it Take to Probate a Will in Alberta, Specifically Calgary?

The time it takes to prove a will depends on how complicated things are. If the person’s stuff (estate) is not too big, only a few people are getting the stuff, and there aren’t many bills to pay, it can be done faster – maybe in 2-3 months.

But if the person had a lot of stuff, many people getting it, and lots of bills to pay, or if there are problems with the papers, it could take much longer – maybe a year or more. Things that might slow it down include issues with documents and having many people or debts involved.

Get Important Documents

Document gathering can take a long or short time, depending on the size of the estate. The executor must review all documents for accuracy and completeness. It involves an inventory of all monetary or tangible assets, which can be enormous in some estates.

Documents in this sense refer to things like:

  • Death Certificate
  • Bank Statements
  • Title to Real Estate
  • Life insurance policies
  • Vehicle ownership documents
  • Investment Statements
  • Pension documentation

Fill out the application for probate

Smaller districts may be accepted more quickly, but in a large district like Calgary, the application can take 4 to 9 weeks to examine, depending on how busy the courts are.

Dealing with potential issues

If the application is refused due to inaccuracies or insufficient information, extra time will be required to address the issues and reapply. Then, the wait begins all over again. It could happen multiple times if the documents still need to be completed or corrected. Working with a competent probate and estate planning lawyer will lower the chances of rejection.

Obtaining a clearance certificate

Even if the application is granted, the Canada Revenue Agency may require a Clearance Certificate before assets can be dispersed. Acquiring the certificate may take a few months to more than a year.

Executing the Will

Executing a will entails paying off all creditors and allocating assets to beneficiaries. This process might take many weeks or months, depending on the complexity and size of the will and the number of beneficiaries and creditors. Beneficiaries must wait until all creditors have been paid before receiving any assets.

Estate Administration Checklist

Executors are required to do four core tasks under the Estate Administration Act. The four core tasks are listed below, along with some of the actions needed by the executor to complete them.

It is meant to be a partial list of executor duties. Always verify with your lawyer to confirm that you have completed the procedures correctly. This information is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Identifying the Estate’s Assets and Liabilities

  • Reviewing the dead person’s filed income tax returns to uncover income-generating assets, such as RRSPs.
  • List the contents of the safety deposit boxes.
  • Notifying the provincial and federal administrations of the death so that benefits are discontinued
  • Advising financial institutions of the deceased and seeking information about the assets
  • Reviewing bonds, warrants, and share conversion rights.
  • Studying accounting from an attorney appointed under a surviving power of attorney or trustee appointed under the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act.

Administering and Managing the Estate

  • Ensure estate property is secure and insured.
  • Hiring a lawyer
  • Informing beneficiaries of property that will pass outside the estate and joint tenancy survivors

Satisfying the Estate’s Debts and Obligations

  • Advertise for claimants/creditors if needed.
  • Determining whether claims are legitimate.
  • Paying debts and claims.
  • Determine whether the financial institution will honor cheques not cleared by the deceased.
  • Reviewing mortgages and leases and organizing payments.
  • Find out if debts are life-insured.
  • Reviewing the deceased’s unforeseen liabilities and determining what to do with them
  • Notifying the parties to whom the dead person offered guarantees of death in writing.
  • Identifying the dead person’s and the estate’s income tax or other tax obligations
  • Filing tax returns and paying taxes due
  • Obtaining tax clearance certifications before dispersing the estate

Distributing the Estate and Accounting for Its Administration

  • Estate administration involves distributing assets and accounting for expenses.


While it is possible to probate a will in Alberta without hiring a lawyer, it requires careful attention to the legal process and bond to specific steps. Although self-representation can save on legal fees, individuals should know the complexities involved. Obtaining the necessary documents, filling out probate forms, and securing the Grant of Probate are crucial steps. It’s essential to approach the process carefully and seek guidance from legal professionals when needed. This overview is a crucial guide, but consulting with a lawyer for advice based on your situation is recommended to ensure a smooth and legally sound probate process.