By Published On: June 16, 2023Tags: , ,


Passing away is a difficult time for any of us, but it’s important to make sure that the deceased’s estate is managed and distributed according to the law. In Ontario, an Estate Trustee holds legal authority to do this – which means you may need a Certificate of Appointment or Small Estate Certificate from the Superior Court of Justice in order achieve rightful access. Here we will explain what these certificates mean and how they can be obtained.

What is Probate?

When an individual passes away, they may leave behind possessions, property, and other assets and debts, which make up their estate. In Ontario, only an estate trustee has the legal power to administer or distribute an estate. Probate is a process where the court grants authority to act as an estate trustee, confirms the authority of a person named as an estate trustee in the Will and formally approves the validity of the deceased’s last Will.

What is a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee in Ontario

A Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee is a legal document issued by the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario. It provides proof that the person named on it has been appointed as the lawful estate trustee and has the authority to manage or distribute an estate. For an applicant to receive a certificate, they must prove to the court that they are the appropriate person to be named as an estate trustee.

Steps for Applying for Probate

There are two pathways in Ontario if you are interested in filing Probate for an estate. If the value of the estate is under $150,000, you can file for a Small Estate Certificate with the Superior Court of Justice. On the other hand, when your inheritance exceeds this amount and is valued at over $150,000 or more, then a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee should be applied to obtain.

Before beginning the Probate process, it’s essential to decide whether the estate warrants Probate and what kind of certificate is required. This may be necessary if the deceased owned real property or had assets with a financial institution. Furthermore, if they passed away without a Will, did not name an executor in their Will, or there are conflicts regarding its validity and who should serve as trustee, you must apply for Probate. Additionally, bear in mind that before commencing your application, you need to see if someone else has already begun court proceedings or secured a certificate.

Before beginning the application process, it is highly recommended that applicants consult Ottawa Probate Lawyers and Estate Lawyers in Ottawa for detailed information about what’s involved.

Who is eligible to apply for Probate?

If you have a Will in place, the estate trustee named within it is typically tasked with applying for Probate. Of course, if they so choose, an alternate individual may apply on behalf of the trustee instead.

In the absence of a Will, typically, one’s spouse or common-law partner has priority to apply for Probate. If that is not an option, then it falls to the closest adult relative of the deceased (including children, parents, grandchildren and siblings), who can file instead. The court will decide which among them would be most suitable in each case.

How to Apply for Probate?

To apply for Probate at the court, you will need to submit several documents as required by the court’s rules for estates cases. These include:

  • The original Will of the deceased (if any)
  • Any additional or supplementary documents that explain, change or revoke the Will or parts of it.
  • Proof of death, such as a death certificate or court order
  • Required court forms that provide information about the deceased’s assets and beneficiaries

If the original Will cannot be located, steps can be taken to try and locate it. Proof of death can be provided by a death certificate issued by a funeral director or an official Province of Ontario death certificate, which can be requested online through the Registrar General.

Obtaining the Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee

After a successful application, you will be issued a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee. This certificate grants you the authority to manage the assets of the estate and pay its debts. Applications are usually processed within 15 business days, but it may take longer if necessary documents or evidence need to be included or if the application raises an issue that requires a judge’s decision. Once your application is filed, court staff will review it and determine if a certificate can be issued. This includes checking if all required information, evidence and documentation have been submitted and searching the estate court records to see if any other person has made the same application, if any person has objected to your application or if there is a more recent Will deposited with the court than the one you filed.


Obtaining a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee in Ontario can be complicated, so it is important to have the right legal support. If you are located in Ontario and need assistance with probate or estate matters, our team of experienced Ottawa Probate Lawyers and Ottawa Estate Lawyers at Nirman’s Law is here to help. We offer comprehensive services that will guide you through the process while protecting your interests every step of the way. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for more information or to book an appointment!


This website’s content or any blog posts or news are solely intended to be used for informational purposes and should not be considered legal advice. This article is meant only as a general guideline, which may not apply in all circumstances, so it is important to consult with an experienced Will & Estate Lawyer or Ottawa Wills Lawyer before taking action based on the information provided here.

If you need more information about Ontario Probate Matters, then don’t hesitate to reach out to Nirman’s Law for assistance. Nirman’s Law is Ottawa’s premier law firm for Canadian legal matters, offering both traditional in-person legal services and cutting-edge virtual services.

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