What is a Certificate of Appointment? And do I need one?

Updated March 24, 2022

By Margaret Waddington

What is a Certificate of Appointment?

A Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will (or Without a Will) used to be referred to as “Letters Probate” and is sometimes referred to as an Estate Certificate. The Certificate of Appointment is a process where the court reviews the Will and gives the court’s stamp of approval as to the authenticity of the Will and verifies your right to act as Estate Trustee (also known as an Executor or Executrix). This process is also often required if there is no Will so that the court can authorize an Estate Trustee to act for the Estate.

The court Application should be filed with the Superior Court of Justice located in the county or district where the deceased had their permanent residence. If the deceased had no permanent residence in Ontario, the Application is filed at the Superior Court of Justice in the county or district where the deceased’s property is located.

The Estate Administration Tax (formerly known as Probate Fees) must be paid when the Estate Trustee files their Application with the court. (See our related article: What You Need to Know About “Probate Taxes” for a more detailed look at the Estate Administration Tax and the related deadlines).

Do I need a Certificate of Appointment?

The nature of the deceased’s assets will determine whether it is necessary to obtain a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee. Assets such as corporate shares, real property (that is not owned in joint tenancy), insurance policies naming the estate as the beneficiary, and large bank accounts can all potentially trigger the need to complete a court Application but there are other instances as well.

If this is indeed the case, it will be necessary to prepare a Form 74C Application for Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee (herein after “Application”) to the court and provide it to the beneficiaries.

These documents frequently include, but are not limited to:

  • Form 74A Application;
  • Original Will (if there is one);
  • Death Certificate;
  • Affidavit of Execution of Witness;
  • Form 74C Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee; and
  • Cheque for Estate Administration Tax.

If the court accepts the information provided then they will then issue a Certificate of Appointment and you will have full authority to administer the estate and to deal with any financial institutions, services or business as may be required. This includes the Canada Revenue Agency for tax purposes.

In many cases where spouses hold most of their property jointly, a Certificate of Appointment is often not required as much of the property passes through rights of survivorship. In any case, advice should be sought from an estate lawyer regarding your particular circumstances and whether an Application to the court will necessary in your case.

Need assistance administering an estate?

If you have any questions regarding the Administration of an Estate, a Certificate of Appointment, or Estate Administration Taxes please do not hesitate to contact any member of our Estates Team. We serve clients across Ontario and are experienced in managing both simple and complex estates.

Margaret Waddington can be reached via email at mwaddington@wmnlaw.com or by telephone at 807 625-8871 for more information.