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What does it mean to probate a will? What are the implications for the beneficiaries?

Probate is the process by which a will is proven as genuine. The probate process can be long and costly, with fees ranging from zero (in Quebec) to various amounts in other provinces, generally based on the size of the estate. Probate fees can be reduced in a number of ways such as transferring ownership of property prior to death; holding properties jointly so that when one of the joint owners dies the other automatically gets title; making major charitable contributions prior to death.

In Ontario the first duty of the estate trustee (the executor) is to apply to the Ontario Court (General Division) for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a will (known as Letters Probate in other provinces), which confirms the validity of the will and the appointment of the estate trustee.

Probate can be delayed by lengthy distribution of estate funds or assets.