The Probate Process

If you’ve been named or appointed as a Personal Representative, and are wondering how to proceed to Probate a Will in Alberta so you can carry out the duties you accepted in that appointment, we’re pleased to provide the following general step-by-step guide to help you along. Of course, there may be specific issues unique to your situation, which you must seek legal counsel about. We encourage you to contact a lawyer to discuss any such unique situations. Generally speaking, however, there are several common steps to follow when administering an Estate, as outlined below.

Locate and Review the Will

An original, signed copy of the deceased’s Will is required for an application of Probate in Alberta. If the original Will is lost or destroyed, a court may accept a copy of the original under certain circumstances.

Is the Will Still Valid?

Generally speaking, a Will isn’t valid unless it meets certain basic conditions, such as:

  • It must be in writing and, with few exceptions, have been made by a person over 18 years of age.
  • It must be signed by the deceased, or another person in the deceased’s presence and direction.
  • It must be witnessed by at least two other people in the presence of the deceased, unless the Will was personally handwritten (Holographic Will). Witnesses cannot be beneficiaries (or married to beneficiaries) in the Will, or they will lose their right to receive gifts as a beneficiary.
  • Any alterations after writing the Will must be properly signed and witnessed.

Is the Will Still in Force?

There are a number of circumstances that will cause a Will to be not enforceable:

  • Another Will or codicil was properly signed and executed by the deceased at a later date.
  • There is evidence that the deceased, prior to death, intended to revoke the Will by either destroying it or by directing someone else (in his or her presence) to destroy it.

Is it the Last Will?

In the Probate application, the Personal Representative must present the Will and swear that it is the last valid Will of the deceased. Thus, it’s always a good idea to ask a spouse, family member, or lawyer, about any other subsequent Wills or Codicils that may have been executed by the deceased at a later date.

Collect Information about Children

One of the first orders of business for a Personal Representative in this Probate process is to gather and list the names and certain other personal details of all the deceased’s children, whether: natural, adopted, step children, children born outside the marriage, or children of any deceased children.

Collect Other Documents

In addition to the Will and any Codicils of the deceased, the Personal Representative will also need to review copies of the following documents:

  • All relevant agreements and court documents associated with matrimonial property, and all other family and adult partner-related agreements, orders and settlements.
  • All titles to land owned (or partially owned) by the deceased, and related leases and tenancy agreements involving the deceased.
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Trust Agreements
  • Vehicle Registrations
  • Life Insurance Policies on the deceased’s life and the lives of others related parties.
  • All relevant Business Agreements such as: shareholder, partnership, employment, etc.

Collect Other Information

In addition to all the previous requirements, there is also a great deal of other information that must be provided in the various forms required for the Probate application, including details about:

  • The deceased
  • Personal Representative and administrators
  • Marriages or relationships
  • Family members
  • Beneficiaries
  • Details of all foreign assets owned
  • All liabilities and guarantees
  • All assets, including cash, investments, life insurance benefits, annuities, pensions, personal effects, and business interests

Applying for the Grant of Probate in Alberta

Once all the information has been collected, the Probate Forms noted on our website must be completed. See Probate Forms for details. Once all the appropriate documents have been gathered and submitted to the court:

  • If there was a valid Will, the Personal Representative may apply for a Grant of Probate.
  • If there was no Will, the application will be for a Grant of Administration.

If the deceased didn’t live in Alberta at the time of death, the Grant of Probate cannot be issued in Alberta and must be applied for in the jurisdiction in which the deceased last resided. However, if the deceased owned property or other assets in Alberta, that grant will have to be “re-sealed” in Alberta in order to deal with those assets or properties.


Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions that aren’t answered on our site, or to schedule an appointment. We’re always happy to chat with you about any of your legal needs.