Probate for Small BC Estates

Courthouse for estate probate

In British Columbia, there is no official concept of a "small" estate settlement process, but it is still possible to avoid probate under certain circumstances.

Assets That Bypass Probate

There's no need for probate if the estate consists solely of assets that bypass probate, such as assets held in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship (e.g., a home) assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., RRSPs, life insurance policies), accounts Payable on Death, and other standard probate exclusions.

Custodian Cooperation

Even if there are assets that do not automatically transfer on death, you may be able to avoid probate if the existing asset custodians allow you to take possession of the assets without a probate Grant of Letters. However, if a custodian such as a financial institution requires an official executor appointment, then probate will be required.

No Probate Fees for Estates <$25,000

In any case, estates worth less than $25,000 are not subject to any probate fees (see Probate Fee Act, SBC 1999, c 4, s 2).

Real Property

If the estate contains real property (i.e., real estate) that does not automatically transfer on death, then probate will always be required.


If there are disputes about the will, or debts, you will most likely want to go through probate in any case, for the legal protections and process it provides

No Small Estate Affidavit

People often ask if there is a small estate affidavit process in BC, and indeed the Wills, Estates, and Success Act does reference such a thing, but the referenced details never made it into law (Part 6, Division 2).


In British Columbia, the Supreme Court of BC handles probate and estate administration (see Supreme Court registry locations).

See also People's Law School: Do I Need a Court Application?, and these common BC probate forms.

See also General Probate.

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