What is the Estate Information Return?
A relatively new process in the world of estate administration, the Estate Information Return was originally implemented for Executors to file for estates where an application had not been submitted prior to January 1, 2015.
Currently, this return is slowly becoming a more understood part of the Executor’s duty and estate administration process and is filed for every estate requiring probate. Once a Certificate of Appointment (probate) has been received, an Executor has 180 days to file the return with the Ministry of Finance either online, mail, courier, or fax.
Let us clarify, the Estate Information return is NOT an income tax return, which must still be filed on the appropriate deadline dates based on the date of death for the deceased. The Estate Information Return is a very detailed “asset listing” of the fair market value of the deceased’s assets on date of death.
When an Executor prepares the application for probate, an inventory listing is prepared at the same time in order to calculate the amount of probate tax/fees that are payable to the Minister of Finance. The payment for probate tax/fees must be submitted along with the application documents to the Superior Court. Think of the Estate Information Return as the “back up” of what you based your estate value and probate fees/tax from.
If within four (4) years, an Executor finds additional assets that were not included in the probate application, then an affidavit stating the change in the value of assets and additional probate fees/taxes (or request for refund of probate fees paid) must be submitted to the Minister of Finance along with an amended Estate Information Return. The amendment must be completed within 60 calendar days of the Executor becoming aware of the changes and/or additions to the assets.
An important thing to keep in mind is that an Estate Information Return is still required to be filed even if the estate’s value is less than $50,000 and no probate fees were paid at the time of applying for the Certificate of Appointment.
You are not required to file an Estate Information Return in the following cases:
- You have received the following:
- A Certificate of Appointment of Succeeding Estate Trustee with a Will
- A Certificate of Appointment of Succeeding Estate Trustee with a Will Limited to the Assets Referred to the in the Will
- A Certificate of Appointment of Succeeding Estate Trustee without a Will
- A Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee During Litigation
- You applied for the Estate Certificate prior to January 1, 2015
- You were not issued an Estate Certificate after an application was made (i.e. your application was withdrawn)
- If the full amount of estate administration tax has been paid in respect of a deceased’s estate, and there is no change to be reported about the assets of the estate, but a subsequent estate application is required to be filed (such as to appoint a succeeding Estate Trustee), no additional tax is payable and a new Information Return is not required with respect to the subsequent estate application.
“If an Executor fails to file a return, makes false or misleading statements on the return, then the Executor is guilty of an offence and, on conviction, is 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. An initial or amended Information Return that is filed after the deadline has lapsed can be assessed or reassessed at any time.” (Source- 9955E_Guide(2019/12) page 3 of 14)
Assets to List on the Estate Information Return
The Executor MUST list all the assets that the deceased owned at the time of death using fair market value of each item. Full details of each asset should be included, such as the address of the institution holding the asset, bank account number, property roll number, etc. If a property held a mortgage against it, then this mortgage (also known as an “Encumbrance”) and can be deducted from the value of the property. No other liabilities can be used to reduce the fair market value of the estate.
Assets that are held jointly where the deceased had an interest in that asset at the time of their death should be included on the Estate Information Return. An exception from this rule is property that the deceased owned as “Joint Tenancy” with right of survivorship.
Do not include assets that will be passing outside of the estate, they do not require to be listed as an asset or have probate tax/fees paid on them. Some examples include life insurance with named beneficiaries, property held in Joint Tenancy with a right of survivorship, etc.
Examples of assets of an Estate:
- Real estate in Ontario (less the value of encumbrances on title)
- Bank Accounts (wherever situated)
- Investments (wherever situated)
- Vehicles and Vessels (wherever situated)
- All other assets, wherever situated, including:
- Intangible property
- Business interests
- Household Contents
- Loans Receivable
- Insurance (if proceeds are to pass through the estate, i.e. no named beneficiary on the policy)
We also recommend that Executors keep records of how they obtained the fair market value for each asset. This could include bank statements, investment statements, formal appraisal reports, etc. The Ministry of Finance may audit the return to ensure accuracy and if the Executor kept records proving values, then it makes the process easier! If you have any questions about the Estate Information Retun (or think you may have not filed one at all!) Contact us today!