Q & A with Lori Isaj, Estate and Trust Planning Associate, Beard Winter LLP
Q: What are these new electronic filing rules in Ontario?
A: The new electronic filing rules, effective October 6, 2020, allow individuals to submit Applications for Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee, commonly known as probate applications, by email. Previously, all probate applications had to be submitted in hard copy to the court. Electronic filing is an alternative to and not a substitute for paper filing. The new rules are a positive step in expediting probate applications, allowing estate trustees to swiftly begin or smoothly continue the estate administration process. An added bonus of electronic filing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it is likely fewer people will need to attend the court for filing documents, ensuring greater safety in busy courthouses.
Q: What is the process?
A: The procedure for filing probate applications by email is set out in the Consolidated Notice to the Profession, Litigants, Accused Persons, Public and the Media (“electronic filing rules”) updated on October 6, 2020. The electronic filing rules introduce an Information Form that, together with the probate application, must be completed and emailed to the court. The Information Form asks details about the person filing the materials, the deceased, the documents being filed, and the application. In addition, the electronic filing rules specify instructions related to the court email address, the email subject line, as well as title, format, and size of the attachments. Once processed, courts will issue and deliver the Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with or without a Will by email.
Q: What can be filed by email?
A: Documents that can be filed by email include application forms and supporting documents such as affidavits, consents, proof of death, renunciations, draft certificates, and motions.
Q: What cannot be filed by email?
A: Original documents including wills, codicils, bonds, and ancillary certificates, as well as filing fees or estate administration tax (commonly referred to as “probate fees”), must still be filed in hard copy by mail, courier, or in person.
Q: What about paper applications filed prior to October 6, 2020?
A: Probate applications filed prior to October 6, 2020 can be re-filed by email and will retain their original spot in the processing line. When documents are re-filed electronically, the court will rely on the electronically submitted documents rather than any paper copies previously filed.
Lori Isaj is an associate in the firm’s Trusts and Estates Group. Acting for a wide range of individuals and trust companies, her practice focuses on estate and trust planning and administration. To reach Lori, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.