What is Probate?

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A somewhat alarming statistic is that nearly 50% of adult Canadians do not have a valid Will. Drawing from that, I am going to imagine that an equally large number of people in Nova Scotia are unfamiliar with probate. This blog will take a look at what probate is and why many people would wish to avoid it.

When a person dies something has to be done with all of their physical belongings and assets. This includes things like any property they may own, furniture, vehicles, and clothing. It also includes all sorts of money they may have like life insurance policies, RRSPs, and stocks or bonds. Something also has to be done about any debts a person may have, including outstanding credit card bills, mortgages and final taxes. In cases where a person has a valid will and has done proactive estate planning, the process of probate can be avoided. A Will dictates who is in charge of distributing the assets, (the Executor), and to whom each of those assets is going (the beneficiaries). Probate comes in when there is uncertainty as to who either the Executor or the Beneficiaries are.

In Nova Scotia, Probate is required if a person dies without a Will, if the Will is contested, or if there are assets within the estate which require probate (e.g. owning land or registered assets). Put simply, probate is the formal process where the court determines who will administer the estate, who the beneficiaries are, and which assets each beneficiary receives. 

The three main reasons that people may wish to avoid probate are that the entire contents of a person’s estate, including who they’ve named in their Will becomes a matter of public record, there is the 6 month waiting period, and it adds significant cost to the estate including filing fees, probate tax which is a percentage of the value of the entire estate, and in a lot of cases legal fees.

It is not always possible or even advisable to arrange your affairs to avoid probate. However, it is certainly worth having a conversation to see if it is beneficial in your case. If you live in or around Halifax, Nova Scotia, we’d be happy to help you.

If you have any questions about you can call us at (902) 826-3070 or email us at info@highlanderlaw.ca to set up a meeting with one of our lawyers at our Tantallon law firm. You can also schedule a no commitment Issue Review Consult for $100+HST where you have the opportunity to explain your situation to a lawyer and get basic advice before deciding whether or not you'd like to retain us.  

By: Dianna M. Rievaj, MBA, LLB - Founding Lawyer

The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. Nothing contained on this blog is legal advice or constitutes a legal opinion. While it is our goal to provide information which is current, legislative changes and court decisions, among other matters, may result in some information no longer being current or accurate. You should consult a lawyer before relying on any information. The views expressed herein by individual contributing lawyers posting entries to the blog are solely those of the authors and should not necessarily be attributed to or considered representative of the firm of Highlander Law Group Lawyers