Minimize Probate

With our strategy, you can save thousands of dollars in probate fees 

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Tools to Minimize Probate Costs

Multiple Wills

Multiple wills are used to separate assets into those that must be probated and those where probate can be avoided.

Bare Trusts

Legal title to key assets is transferred to a bare trust whose trustee is a special purpose corporation

Tax-Driven Rollovers

Real estate and other qualifying assets may be transferred on a tax-free basis to a holding corporation to further reduce probate

What is Probate?

When you die, your will gives your executors the legal authority to deal with the affairs of your estate. While it is the will that grants an executor the authority to deal with your estate, in most instances your executor will be required to obtain a grant of probate in order to be able to fully administer your estate. In many instances third parties will require a “probated” will in order to release assets to the executor or to transfer title to property. In Ontario, except for some small exceptions, this a requirement for the transfer of real estate. 

So, what exactly is “probate”? Probate is the process through which a court confirms that it is satisfied that the will on which your executors are relying upon for their authority is your last will and testament and that the persons named in the probate Certificate granted by the court are the estate trustees under the will with the authority to deal with your estate. 

Cost of Probate

In Ontario, in order to “probate” a will, the estate must pay a probate tax of approximately 1.5% of all the assets covered by will. With many individuals in the Greater Toronto Area having personal homes with a value of at least $1,000,000, the cost of probate could easily exceed $15,000. 

For those individuals that have businesses or invest into real estate, probate costs can be significantly higher. 

Dual Wills to Reduce Probate

The multiple will strategy in estate planning involves the use of multiple wills to segregate assets into those that “must” be probated and into those which can be transferred without probating the will. 

Assets that may be dealt with without probate include:

  • shares in privately held corporations; 
  • assets held in trust for the testator b private corporations and amounts owing to the testator from private corporations;
  • beneficial interests of the testator in a trust;
  • unsecured loans owing to the testator; and
  • personal effects.

Role of Bare Trusts and Tax-Free Rollovers

The use of bare-trusts or tax-free rollovers allows for additional assets to be dealt with without probate. For example, by incorporating a special purpose corporation (or utilizing an existing corporation) owned by you which will act as the bare trustee, you may be able to transfer the legal title to your real estate assets to such a corporation. As the corporation is a private corporation, it may be dealt with without probate. For most individuals, avoiding the payment of probate on real property will result in significant savings.

Similarly, if you have a real estate investment portfolio, transferring the investment properties on a tax-deferred basis to a corporation  controlled by you can result in significant probate savings. By utilizing a corporation, you may also enjoy other benefits which would not be available to you through personal ownership. 

Not convinced? See the example below for an example of savings that can be achieved with the implementation of a comprehensive estate plan. 

Savings Illustrator


Single Will

Primary Will

Secondary Will With Bare Trust

Primary Residence




Investment Properties




Business Operated Through Corporation




Non-Registered Investment Account








Gross Estate








Probate Fees:




0.5% on the first $50,000




1.5% on the balance
















Total Ontario probate tax






Tax Savings With Planning


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