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Digitizing the Business of Wills: Probate Applications may now be Submitted by Email

Section D(6) of the Consolidated Notice to the Profession, Litigants, Accused Persons, Public and the Media (the “Consolidated Notice”):
https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/notices-and-orders-covid-19/consolidated-notice/#6_Email_Processes_for_Certificates_of_Appointment_of_Estate_Trustee_Probate 

As of October 6, the Consolidated Notice linked above has been amended to include a new process by which a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee can be applied for electronically. This amendment, which is found at s. D(6), represents another incremental step in the profession’s adaptation to technological solutions to the challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The email address to which the applications should be sent is specific to the court location in question. A list of all of these addresses can be found by following a link in s. D(6).

S. D(6) goes on to state the following requirements:

  • The application form and supporting documents (affidavits, consents, proof of death, renunciations, draft certificates, motions) should be submitted by email only.
  • Original documents filed in support of the application (e.g. wills, codicils, bonds, ancillary certificates) and certified copies must be filed in hard copy by mail or courier to the Superior Court of Justice location where the application was filed or provided at the court office.
  • Estate administration tax payments and any filing fees must also be sent by mail or courier to the court office or provided at the court office.
  • The subject line of the email sent to the court must indicate the acronym for the court, the area of law, court file number, and type of document, as set out in [the following example]: SCJ – ESTATES – ES-1234567 – Application for Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee
  • Each email sent to the court, including attachments, must not exceed 35 MB.
  • Document attachments must be in PDF format.
  • Each PDF attachment must contain only one court form and must be saved with name that specifies the court form number and type of document (e.g. Form 74.10 Affidavit of Condition of Will)

Applicants can click on a link in s. D(6) to download an Information Form that must also be attached to the email. The form contains fields to fill with information about the filer, information about the deceased, a list of the documents being filed, other information about the application, and certain confirmations and agreements.

The Consolidated Notice further clarifies that applications filed before October 6 can be resubmitted by email, and that the new process does not apply to estate litigation cases.

When an application has been submitted by email, the Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee is issued electronically, and is delivered to the applicant by email.

As with all electronic procedures that have been introduced due to the pandemic, it will be interesting to see whether this process or something similar will remain in place beyond the pandemic, and whether it will inspire any further adaptions in the future.

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