How do I apply for probate?

Last reviewed July 2024 by the Clicklaw editors

As the executor of a will, you may need to apply for probate to distribute the estate. Probate is a legal procedure that confirms the will is legally valid and that you have the authority to act as executor. Be aware that you don’t always have to apply for probate. It depends on the type of assets in the estate. Certain assets can be passed down without requiring probate, such as land owned in joint tenancy with another person. But if the estate includes things like real estate that is not jointly owned, you will have to apply for probate. If you’re not sure if you need to probate a will, it’s a good idea to get legal advice from a lawyer.

The probate procedure includes submitting special forms and the will to the Probate Registry of the Supreme Court.

Where can I find court rules about probate?

The Supreme Court Civil Rules dealing with probate and administration (“Probate Rules”) were amended to reflect changes brought about by the enactment of the new BC Wills, Estates and Succession Act and to generally modernize the application process. Court rules about probate are in the Supreme Court Civil Rules — Part 25 — Estates.

Where can I find the probate forms?

The files are online. If you’d like to use a computer for free, Courthouse Libraries BC has computers you can use to find probate forms. If you’re using your own device instead, you need the latest version of Adobe Reader installed. You also need to configure your browser. If you need help configuring your browser, see Supreme Court Civil Rules — Probate Forms (Government of British Columbia) and read the section on compatibility.

For a typical probate application you need the following (when you click on the links, your computer will download the PDF automatically):

  • A notice of proposed application in Form P1.
  • A submission for estate grant in Form P2.
  • An affidavit of the applicant in Form P3 (for a simple estate) or Form P4 (for a complex estate).
  • Affidavit(s) of delivery, in Form P9, that confirm that notice of the application was delivered to everyone to whom notice must be given. Attach a Notice of Proposed Application in Relation to Estate — Form P1.
  • An affidavit of assets and liabilities from the applicant in Form P10 or Form P11.
  • The originally signed version of the will, or if the original does not exist, a copy of the will.
  • Two copies of a certificate of wills notice search, which you get through an Application for Search of Wills Notice Form from the Vital Statistics Agency.
  • Payment of probate fees.

You need other documents if you have to deal with issues relating to the will such as dispensing with notice, the executor renouncing their executorship, and various unusual applications. The full set of probate forms is on the Government of British Columbia website.

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