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Repeal of Probate Charges in Manitoba

On 23 December 2019 the Manitoba government announced that probate fees would be eliminated effective 1 July 2020. That promise has now been incorporated in The Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 (“BITSAA”).[1]

Part 5 of BITSAA amends The Law Fees and Probate Charge Act (“LFPCA”).[2] That Act imposed a charge on the estate of a deceased person, as well as various court services fees. Thus, what were commonly referred to as “probate fees”, were actually called “charges”. The amount of the charge, set out in the Schedule, was relatively minor, currently ranging from $70 for an estate of $10,000 or less, to $70 plus $7 for every additional $1,000 or a fraction thereof.

Section 24 of BITSAA renames the LFPCA The Court Services Fees Act.[3] Section 25 of BITSAA amends s. 1 of the LFPCA by repealing the definition of “charge”. Section 26 of BITSAA repeals s. 1.1 of the LFPCA which imposed a charge on the estate of a deceased person for an application for probate or administration. Other sections of BITSAA make complementary changes to the LFPCA. And s. 31 repeals the Schedule to the LFPCA. Sections 32 and 33 of BITSAA make complementary changes to the Court of Queen’s Bench Surrogate Practice Act[4] by deleting reference to “the charge”.

One can only applaud the repeal of probate charges in Manitoba and one can hope that this repeal will provide impetus to the repeal of Ontario’s misbegotten Estate Administration Tax Act, 1998[5] and other probate fee and tax statutes in Canada.

[1]    Bill 34, 2nd Session, 42nd Legislature. I am grateful to Eleanor Wiebe for drawing this Bill to my attention. The Bill has not yet received Royal Assent. Should that be delayed past 1 July 2020, presumably elimination of probate fees will be delayed until the date of Royal Assent.

[2]    C.C.S.M. L80.

[3]    By virtue of s. 30 BITSAA, the Court Services Fees Act will now be referred to as C.C.S.M. c. C297.

[4]    C.C.S.M. c. C290.

[5]    S.O. 1998, c. 34.

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