Update: The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Clarifies Probate Fees Payable for Pre-June 2015 Estates

January 22, 2019

In our blog post of September 4, 2018, we identified what we viewed as an improper application by the Probate Registry of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador of subsection 4(3) of the provincial Services Charges Act when it comes to the statutory fee charged on the filing of updated or amended estate Inventories and Valuations for estates where letters of probate or administration were issued prior to June 23, 2015.

It was on June 23, 2015 that the legislation was amended to increase the ad valorem fee (commonly known as a “probate fee”) charged by twenty per cent (20%), from $0.50 to $0.60 for each $100.00 increment of estate value above the first $1,000.00.

When we filed an Amended Inventory and Valuation for a pre-June 23, 2015 estate last year, we learned that the practice in the Court Probate Registry has been to retroactively apply the higher post-June 23, 2015 probate fee rate to the entire value of the estate, including the amount which was certified at the time of the original grant of Letters when the lower rate was still in effect. The Court Registry would then give the filer a credit for the probate fee paid at the pre-June 23, 2015 when the grant of Letters was originally made and require the filer to pay the remainder of fees levied on both the originally certified value and any additional value being certified in the Amended Inventory and Valuation.

Our client instructed us to take an application to the Court to challenge the Probate Registry’s assessment practice in these situations as an unlawful retroactive imposition of probate fees. Notice of our client’s challenge was given to the provincial Department of Justice and Public Safety.

The Province and the Probate Registry have now confirmed that the pre-June 23, 2015 probate fee will apply to Amended Inventory and Valuation filings in estates for which Letters were issued by the Court prior to that date. The Court has published a notice on its website to this effect. As a result, in a pre-June 23, 2015 estate where an Amended Inventory and Valuation is required to be filed under the Services Charges Act, the additional statutory fees payable will be calculated by applying the pre-June 23, 2015 rate to any additional value being certified.

It should be emphasized that the pre-June 2015 fee will only be applied where Letters of Probate or Letters of Administration were issued by the Court prior to that time. Anyone seeking Letters of Probate or Administration for the first time are still required to pay the statutory fee at the new rate even if the deceased person’s date of death was prior to June, 2015.

The Court’s new assessment policy has been included in the Court Fee Schedule which can be accessed by following this link: Schedule of Fees (effective July 1, 2015)

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