A Will admitted into Probate by the Supreme Court of British Columbia may also be admitted to a Probate in the Superior Court of Washington. Typically, it is necessary to have a Probate in Washington as well because the BC Court does not have the power to transfer title or ownership to real property in Washington. If the BC Court already approved the Will and appointed an executor by way of a Letters Probate or Grant of Probate, then the Washington Court will likely follow the BC Court and admit the Canadian Will. So the Probate in Washington is often limited to the transfer of title or ownership to real property in Washington for the Estate of the Canadian decedent but there are some hoops to jump through.
In the event of a husband and wife both passing, it is often the case that the Will of the surviving spouse only, and not the first spouse to pass, would have been probated in BC. In this case it is often best to admit the original Will of the first spouse in the Washington Court. If the Will of the first spouse was duly executed by 2 witnesses and meets the normal formalities, the Washington Court should recognize the Will of the first spouse as valid even if not admitted to probate in BC. Otherwise it may be necessary to submit proof to establish the validity of his Will which of course is more involved.
Please note a “Probate” in Washington is not the same as in BC. While there are some costs, the Washington Court does not charge fees based upon the value of the probate assets like the BC Court. While “Probate” is often a bad word in BC it is not the case in Washington which has a favorable probate procedure.
While there are pros and cons of having a second Probate in Washington, the main benefit of course is to transfer title or ownership from the estate to the beneficiary. Other benefits include terminating or resolving creditor claims. The end result is very beneficial because the Probate in Washington should make the real property in Washington free and clear of any defects or clouds from the passing of the decedent.
Other factors that sometimes make a Probate in Washington more complicated include solvency, intervention, and bond requirements. If the Washington real property is the only asset and there are no debts (other than possibly the reimbursement for past payment of real property taxes, insurance, etc.), then the estate should be deemed solvent. And without any requirement that the Court control each step of the probate process (which is not so common) then non-intervention powers should be granted by the Court, particularly if the executor named in the Will is willing to serve as the personal representative in the probate in the Washington Court. And lastly, if there is no bond requirement in the Will that is preferred. If the estate were insolvent, required Court intervention, and/or bonding then of course that would make the process more burdensome and expensive. Fortunately in most cases those requirements can be avoided.
There may be other ways to transfer title to real estate, such as by an Affidavit Lack of Probate, or an adjudication proceeding, both having their own pros and cons.
The above is information is by no way exhaustive. And the above is not intended to be legal advice but is general information provided as a courtesy.
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