Probating the Foreign Assets of a B.C. Resident


Given the interconnectedness of today’s world, it is not uncommon for B.C. residents to own assets located in several different jurisdictions. For example, a person might own a family home in B.C., a cabin in Ontario, and a bank account in Washington.

When a B.C. resident dies holding assets in multiple jurisdictions, and an application for an estate grant (i.e. the authority to administer the person’s estate) is made in B.C., two questions arise with respect to the assets located in foreign jurisdictions:

  1. Should the foreign assets be disclosed in the application for a B.C. estate grant?
  2. Will probate fees be payable on the foreign assets as part of the estate grant application?

Disclosing Foreign Assets

If the deceased was ordinarily a resident in B.C. at their death, the applicant for the estate grant must disclose in the estate grant application the existence and value of all property of the deceased that passes to the applicant as administrator of the deceased’s estate, irrespective of the property’s nature, location or value. This means that any foreign assets of the deceased passing to the applicant as estate administrator must be disclosed.

The value listed for each foreign asset is the value of the asset on the deceased’s date of death, converted to Canadian dollars.

Probate Fees on Foreign Assets

While all foreign assets passing to the estate administrator must be disclosed in the estate grant application, probate fees are not necessarily payable on all of those assets.

Probate fees are payable on the “value of the estate” at a top rate of 1.4% (the rate is lower on the first $50,000 within the estate).

The “value of the estate” is defined as the gross value of the following categories of property passing to the applicant as estate administrator:

  1. the real and tangible personal property of the deceased situated in B.C.; and
  2. the intangible personal property of the deceased, wherever situated.

Therefore, probate fees are only payable on those assets situated outside of B.C. that can be characterized as intangible personal property.

The following table provides examples of property that would be subject to probate fees in B.C. based on the rules outlined above:

Foreign Intangible Property (subject to B.C. probate fees) Foreign Tangible Property (not subject to B.C. probate fees)
  • Bank accounts and investments (e.g.: the Washington bank account)
  • Real property (e.g.: the cabin in Ontario)
  • Shares of privately held companies
  • Vehicle

If you have any questions about probating foreign assets in B.C., a member of our Wills + Estates team would be happy to assist you.

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