In British Columbia, when you apply for a grant of probate of a will, or a grant of letters of administration of an estate, you have to file with the Court Registry an inventory of the estate assets and liabilities, which includes details of the deceased’s bank and investment accounts. Usually, the easiest way to obtain this information is to write to the financial institutions the deceased dealt with and request it. I often do this on behalf of clients whom I assist with estate administration. Although most financial institutions in British
The new Probate Rules will provide a remedy. The new rules come into effect on March 31, 2014, when the new Wills, Estates and Succession Act also comes into effect.
If you are applying for a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration, and need financial information from a financial institution, you may obtain an Authorization to Obtain Estate Information (Form P18) from the Supreme Court Registry where you are making the application pursuant to Rule 25-4 (1) of the Supreme Court Civil Rules. To obtain this form, you need to give the required notice to beneficiaries and others entitled to notice of your application, and you need to file the other materials required to obtain the grant of probate or letters of administration, including the Will if you are applying for probate.
Once the Court has issued the Authorization, you can deliver it to a financial institution or other person from which you require the information. The financial institution must then provide you with information related to the nature and value of the deceased’s assets within its possession or control within 30 days.
If the financial institution does not provide the information within 30 days, you may then apply to court for a court order that it provide the information. The court may then award costs against the financial institution for failing to comply with the Authorization to Obtain Estate Information. The risk of a cost award should provide financial institutions or others with a good incentive to comply.
Once you have the necessary information to complete the inventory of the deceased’s assets and liabilities, you may then file the inventory with the Court Registry to obtain the grant of probate or of administration.
This process will provide a good way to obtain information to obtain a grant if a financial institution is slow or reluctant to provide information without court authorization.
I hope that financial institutions don’t develop a practice of insisting on receiving an Authorization to Obtain Estate Administration as a matter of course, which could have the effect of delaying grants of probate.