Probate & Real Estate in Ontario

For Home Sellers

When someone close to you passes away, such as a family member, you may be tasked with unique responsibilities. If you’ve been named an executor of their estate, these responsibilities could include selling their home. 

Dealing with the death of a family member is a long, emotional, and difficult process. And unfortunately, added tasks such as managing their estate can make an already stressful time even harder. 

This post will look at the process of becoming an executor, the responsibilities that come with it, and how to sell someone’s home after they’ve passed away. 

Potential buyers may have stigmas about a home if the previous owner has passed away. As an executor taking care of a home sale, it’s helpful to know your rights and responsibilities surrounding disclosures. Click here to read my blog post on the topic. 

Unpacking Probate

When someone passes away, they typically have many belongings that they leave behind. Some of these items will be small, such as family heirlooms or keepsakes, but others are more significant, like their home or vehicle. Altogether, these belongings are known as an “estate”. In Ontario, the management and distribution of someone’s estate can only be handled by the estate trustee – a person with legal permission to act on behalf of the person who has passed away.  

Probate is the legal process of naming someone as an estate trustee (also called an executor) and can occur with or without a Will. If the person who passed away had no Will, someone close to them (usually a spouse or grown-up child) can apply for probate. If someone has already been named as an executor in the Will, that person will need to apply for probate to get formal confirmation from the court that they have permission to act on the estate. 

In the instance when the trustee named in a Will doesn’t want to apply for probate, they can choose someone else to apply instead.

Navigating the real estate market after a loved one has passed isn’t easy. If you’re preparing to take care of an estate in the near future, consider some of these posts from my blog – they may come in handy.  

When is Probate Necessary?

Probate isn’t always mandatory after someone passes away, but it is common. In a nutshell, determining whether or not probate is required comes down to the financial value of what the person who has passed away left behind, or in more formal terms, the “size” of the estate. 

In the case of homeowners who pass away, probate is almost always required. This is because the value of the home typically surpasses the threshold of what the province considers to be a “small estate”. Probate may also not be required if the person who passed away is survived by their spouse who has shared rights to certain belongings and assets.  

How Probate Impacts Real Estate  

When someone passes away, one of the largest belongings they can leave behind is their home. And, as the executor has legal control over the estate, it’s their job to decide what happens to it. More often than not, this means selling the home, which they’ll be directly responsible for. 

As you can expect, this process is challenging both emotionally and logistically. Selling your own home is stressful enough, selling the home of a loved one who has passed is even harder. One of the first steps an executor can take to make this process easier is hiring a real estate agent. Luckily, there are real estate agents who have years of experience selling estate homes. This unique expertise can offer you peace of mind during a difficult time, and ensure you achieve a positive result in the home sale. 

How an Agent Can Help You

Regardless of your personal circumstances, working with a real estate agent is always a best practice when selling a home. As an industry expert, they know the selling process inside and out and can take away the stress by making the sale feel automated. With the right real estate agent by your side, you’ll have more time and energy to focus on other important items and be present with loved ones during a difficult time. 

Beyond helping you sell the home for a great price, a local agent can also put you in touch with industry professionals that can assist you in the executorship process before, during, and after the transaction. 

I have years of experience helping sellers through all kinds of major life changes and can offer you a compassionate, stress-free selling experience. Call or text me at 647-239-7587 or send me an email at to get started.

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