It used to be enough for an estate trustee (executor) to provide the Ontario government with their own calculation of the value of an estate when filing for letters probate.  Provincial probate fees are assessed on the estate value and equal $250 for the first $50,000 ($5 for each $1000, up to $50,000), and 1.5% on the excess value.

Now, to ensure that estate values are not underestimated, estate trustees in Ontario must file an Estate Information Return (AIF).  This form must be filed within 90 days of the estate trustee being issued a probate certificate by the provincial government.  The report requires disclosure of much more detailed information regarding the value of estate assets than was required in the past  The return must be filed even if the value of the estate is less than $1,000 and no probate fees are payable.

No return is required where an executor applied for the Estate Certificate (letters probate) prior to January 1, 2015.

Here are a few interesting highlights regarding the return:

You are on the hook for four years – If, within four years of the issuance of the Estate Certificate by the Ontario Government, an estate trustee becomes aware than any information given to the Ministry of Finance on an Information Return is incorrect or incomplete, an amended Information Return must be received by the Ministry of Finance within 30 calendar days of the estate representative becoming aware that the information is incomplete or inaccurate.

Discovering more property – If, after receiving the Estate Certificate, an estate trustee discovers additional property owned by the deceased, a statement disclosing the subsequently discovered property must be filed with the court within six months of the discovery.

Non filing penalties are stiff – Estate trustees who fail to file the Information Return as required, or who make false or misleading statements ono the return, are guilty of an offence and, on conviction, are liable to a fine of at least $1,000 and up to twice the tax payable by the estate, or imprisonment of not more than two years, or both. Yikes!

You have to prove values – Estate trustees should be able to substantiate valuations.  Depending on the asset, valuations can be complicated, (private business for example) and a professional valuator with the necessary expertise may be necessary.  Because professional valuations can be expensive, sufficient estate residue be held back from distribution until such costs are paid.  Records relevant to the valuation of estate assets must be retained, and seven years appears to be the period that satisfies the Ministry of Finance.

You can obtain the full Guide by contacting us or by doing an internet search using the term, “Estate Information Return Ontario”.

This information is of a general nature and should not be considered professional advice. Its accuracy or completeness is not guaranteed and Queensbury Strategies Inc. assumes no responsibility or liability.