The Financial Post recently carried an excellent article called "To probate or not to probate", which contains an explanation of what probate actually is, as well as a discussion of some of the reasons people may choose to probate a will or not.
Click here to read the article.
This kind of background information is very valuable to executors who are trying to figure out what they should be doing. It's hard to make decisions if you don't understand the general rules! But this is also great information for people who are making their own wills, because it explains what kind of assets would not be included in a probate application.
Executors should know, though, that they won't always have a choice about whether or not to go through the probate process. Certain assets owned by the deceased simply can't be transferred without probate. An executor who isn't sure about whether or not he/she needs to go through probate should take the will, a rough inventory of the assets and liabilities of the estate, and a list of all beneficiaries and family members to a lawyer or trust company for some guidance.