Application form includes explanatory notice to guide estate those who benefit on potential outcomes
Ontario has introduced regulatory changes seeking to streamline the probate process, to improve the format and guiding language of forms and to implement one set of requirements for applications with and without a will.
O.Reg. 709/21, amending Reg. 194 under the Courts of Justice Act (Rules of Civil Procedure), was filed on Oct. 15 and will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.
The regulation will eliminate 43 forms under Rule 74 and 75, the content of which has been consolidated in eight new forms that simplify the format and use a bigger font size, fillable text boxes and improved guiding language:
- Form 74A will replace Forms 74.4, 74.4.1, 74.5, 74.7, 74.5.1, 74.14, 74.15 and 74.17;
- Form 74J will replaceForms 74.20.1, 74.21, 74.21.1, 74.24, 74.27 and 74.30;
- Form 74C will replace Forms 74.13, 74.13.1, 74.20, 74.20.3, 74.23, 74.23.1, 74.26, 74.29 and 74.31;
- Form 74G will replace Forms 74.11 and 74.18;
- Form 74H will replace Forms 74.12, 74.12.1, 74.19, 74.22, 74.22.1 and 74.25;
- Form 74I and Form 75.8 will replace Forms 74.13.2, 74.36, 74.37, 74.38, 74.39, 74.40, 74.41, 74.42, 75.8 and 75.9;
- Form 74B will replace Forms 74.6 and 74.16.
Application forms will include a new explanatory notice that clarifies to estate beneficiaries the reason that they are receiving the application, their right to object and potential outcomes.
The regulation will introduce the new rule 74.04, a simplified rule which covers applications both with and without a will and which replaces the current rules 74.04 and 74.05. The regulation will require service and filing of the same document, which is the application. This replaces the current procedure that involves serving a notice of application then filing an application under Rule 74.
The changes aim to model the approach to the new small estates process under Rule 74.1, which was introduced on Apr. 1 via O. Reg. 111/21, and to align the estate court forms with the Succession Law Reform Act amendments effected through the Accelerating Access to Justice Act, 2021, Schedule 9, which received royal assent and which was enacted as S.O. 2001, c. 4 on Apr. 19. The amendments to ss. 15(a), 16 and 17 and the new s. 43.1 of the Succession Law Reform Act will come into force on Jan. 1, 2022.
“I suspect these new forms will be easier for individuals with little to no estate administration experience, which is the ultimate goal,” said Sandra Arsenault, law clerk at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, in a post on the All About Estates blog, adding that those who are experienced in such matters will need to unlearn their previous practices.
Arsenault noted that these revisions have come in the wake of recent changes regarding virtual witnessing, digital signatures, service of documents via email, small estates certificates and e-filing. The amended procedure under O.Reg. 709/21 seeks to reduce costs, to expedite the court staff’s processing of applications and to make it easier for the forms to be identified, Arsenault said in the blog post.