Ontario's New Applications for a Small Estate Certificate

Jonathan Burshtein
Jonathan Burshtein Apr 01, 2021

An application for a certificate of appointment of estate trustee (formerly a "probate application") is an application made to the court for a certificate which either confirm the appointment of, or appoints, one or more estate trustees. A different application is made depending on whether or not the deceased died with a Will.

A challenge with the applications is their complexity. Although much of the information is administrative in nature, some questions do require knowledge of the law (such as who is entitled to apply in the case of an application without a Will) and, depending on the circumstances, other forms need to be submitting as part of the application.

Beginning April 1, 2021, a new type of application can be made - an application for a small estate certificate. This application can be made where the value of the estate assets are $150,000 or less. The application process is simplified by requiring less information to be submitted and reducing the number of forms that need to be prepared as part of the application.

Another benefit of the small estate application is that it limits the circumstances in which an administration bond is required. An administration bond is a bond that must be purchased which provides security that the estate trustee will perform their duties in accordance with the law - it is like an insurance policy which protects the beneficiaries from misconduct by the estate trustee. For a small estate, the administration bond is not required unless the applicant is a non-resident of Ontario or a beneficiary is a minor or incapable. Even in these circumstances, the application can file an affidavit with the application to request that the administration bond be dispensed with.

When making the small estate application, it is important to identify all of the deceased assets for two reasons. First, the application and certificate must list the assets that form part of the estate. Second, is a result of the $150,000 limit on the value of the estate. As a result, if assets are discovered after the small estates certificate is issued:

  • if the new total value of the estate is $150,000 or less, an application to the court for an amended small estate certificate will need to be made; or
  • if the new total value of the estate is in excess of $150,000, an application to the court for a certificate of appointment of estate trustee will need to be made.