Probate and Administering an Estate

This phase occurs after death. In general, most estate planning attempts to minimize the taxes payable on death. A Joint tenancy deed between spouses for the matrimonial home passes the title to the survivor without the need for probate. Inheritance, in this case, is automatic without the imposition of any tax.

There are two types of Estates, those with a will and those without.

An estate where a will was in place will be "probated". The term "Probate" comes from the same root "probation", and means "a court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid and operable, and includes the management and supervision of all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates and guardianships".

An estate where no valid will was in place must be administered, meaning that a person will step forward to the plate to manage the outstanding affairs of the deceased loved one and deal with all assets and liabilities in a fair and equitable manner. Heirs, in this case, are determined by provincial law and can include a spouse, even if estranged, all children or in instances where there are no children or a spouse; siblings, parents or the closest relation blood relatives.

The process for either is similar in that the liabilities must be satisfied and assets disbursed in accordance with the Probate Act of Nova Scotia, a formal process which requires specific duties be fulfilled and documents to be filed in a timely manner, depending on the complexity and volume of the estate this process can take approximately nine months to a much longer period of time and ranges from payment of final personal income taxes to real property and personal belongings.

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