While it may seem like a morbid topic of conversation, it is an important one to have. What happens to your home when you die?
In Nova Scotia, typically, when the first spouse to passes away, the home simply stays with their surviving spouse. This happens because most spouses hold their homes as "joint tenants". This is only applicable in situations where both spouses are on title to the home, and listed as joint tenants. This designation is listed on the parcel register for your property and you can have a lawyer find this information for you if you are unsure of your current situation.
Basically, when a property is held as "joint tenants" the person who survives the longest gets the whole asset. The interest in the property is not divided. This transfer happens "by operation of law" (automatically upon death.) However, proof of death needs to be registered with Nova Scotia's Registry of Deeds in order to take the deceased person off the title to the home. A lawyer can help you do this.
The second way of dealing with your home when you pass away is through your Will. Your land does not form part of your estate if you own it as a Joint Tenant. This means you have no power to “give” your land under your Will. It is important to note that if you deal with real property in your Will, the Will must be probated.
When you gift your home in your Will, your executor must follow the correct procedure to deal with it as part of your estate. Title to, the house will be held up in probate for a period of a minimum of six months before it can be sold or the title transferred to the name of the beneficiary.
This is dependent on your having a valid Will. It is best to seek legal advice when drafting a Will, or have one drafted by your lawyer.
The third possibility happens if you do not have a Will and do not own your property jointly. In that case, is that your land like the rest of your property, passes to your beneficiaries as designated by the Intestate Succession Act. "Intestate" means to die without a Will. This piece of legislation sets out the rules for who gets your property in the event that you pass away without a Will, and do not own your property as Joint Tenants.
The rules under the Intestate Succession Act favour a surviving spouse, if they are not on title to the home as a joint tenant, allowing them to get $50,000 or elect to take the matrimonial home as their share of the estate. The rest or "residue" of the estate shall be divided up according to this Act.
If you have any questions about who gets your home when you die, 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 Briana O’Grady, Associate 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.