In a properly drafted Will, there is an estate trustee or trustees named who will have the right to deal with the assets in the estate immediately upon death. On an intestacy (where there is no Will), there is no person who can act immediately upon the death. Someone must apply to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to be appointed as estate trustee.
Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee – Not Required:
It is not always necessary to obtain a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee from the court. Such a Certificate is not required in the following situations:
- to transfer jointly-held real property;
- to transfer jointly owned bank accounts;
- to transfer insurance or pension plan proceeds payable to a named beneficiary; and
- to transfer registered government securities or Canada Pension Plan survivor benefits.
Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee – Required:
For other types of property and in certain circumstances, however, it will be necessary to obtain a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee:
- Intestacy – if there is no Will at death
- Litigation – if the estate is involved in litigation
- Infant beneficiaries – whenever there are infant beneficiaries, the executor will want the protection of having his or her accounts approved by a court
- Real property – land registered in the Registry system may be transferred either before it vests in the beneficiaries or after, with or without obtaining a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee, if the original Will, a notarial copy of the Will, or Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee is registered together with the affidavit referred to in clause 53(1)(a)(i) and (ii) of the Registry Act. In the Land Titles system, the Registrar of Land Titles certifies title to property. Where a deceased dies testate (with a Will), the Registrar will require a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee before it will transfer property registered in the land titles system if the value of the property exceeds $50,000.00.
- Bank accounts – it is established practice that banks and trust companies will require a Certificate of Appointment before assets in excess of $10,000.00-$15,000.00 are transferred. In the case of joint accounts, the assets can be transferred to the survivor upon production of a notarial copy of a death certificate. The transfer of the contents of a jointly held safety deposit box is effected in the same manner.
- Shares – most transfer agents take the view that the transfer of shares of an Ontario corporation worth more than $1,000.00 require a Certificate of Appointment.
- Canada Savings Bonds – obtaining a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee will not be necessary if the Canada Savings Bonds to be transferred do not exceed $20,000.00 and if the applicant is entitled to the entire estate. If the deceased’s entire estate is passed to the surviving spouse, the limit is increased to $75,000.00. Bonds can be transferred to a surviving joint tenant without limitation.