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.
In an uncontested estate, the person seeking to be the Executor (if there is a Will) or administer the estate (if there is no Will or the named Executor is unable to act) fills out a form and files it with the court. The form would either attach the Will or state that there is no Will. There is a small filing fee to go along with this.
If there is no objection, the estate is open formally and the person who has applied is appointed as the administrator of the estate. The next step is to notify all of the potential beneficiaries, that is the either the people named in the Will, or a person’s legal beneficiaries. These are likely some combination of the Spouse, Siblings, and Parents.
You will also need to arrange to have an advertisement placed in a legal publication called the Canada Gazette. There is a filing fee for this as well. The ad has to run for 6 months and its purpose is to notify any potential creditors that the estate has been opened and to come forward with their claim. Again, assuming no objections, after the six-month period the appointed person can now distribute the assets of the estate and file another document telling the court that they have done so.
The last step in the probate process is to seek permission from the court to formally close the estate.
A contested estate will follow a similar procedure, but potentially with a court hearing in the middle to determine who will act as administrator and how the assets will be distributed.
It is possible to probate an estate in Nova Scotia without help from a lawyer, however many people feel it is money well spent (out of the assets of the estate usually) to hire a lawyer who can guide them through the red-tape and any disputes that arise.
If you have any questions about what is involved in probate, we'd be happy to help. If you have any questions about incorporating you can call us at (902) 826-3070 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 LLB, MBA - Managing Lawyer
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