Moving is a big process - should rewriting your Will be added to your to-do list?
A Will is a legal document that expresses your wishes for how your assets will be distributed after your death. However, not all Wills are valid in every jurisdiction. Different countries have different estate laws, and sometimes you may need to update or create a new Will when you move to another country. But what if you move within Canada, from one province to another? You may think that since Canada has a federal legal system, your Will would be valid everywhere. However, this is not always the case. Estate laws can vary significantly among provinces, and your Will may not comply with the rules of your new province of residence. Therefore, it is advisable to review your Will and make any necessary changes or prepare a new one whenever you relocate to a different province in Canada.
A Will prepared in British Columbia may not be valid in Nova Scotia if you move here and do not write a new one. Your BC Will would apply in Nova Scotia after your death, but it could be challenged and rejected by Nova Scotia laws. This would mean that you die intestate (without a valid Will) and lose control over your estate. Many people are unaware of this risk when they relocate to another province. An example of this would be if you wrote your Will before you were married. In BC, it is still considered valid, but in Nova Scotia, unless it was written in a specific manner, a marriage revokes any pre-existing Wills under the Wills Act of Nova Scotia.
I’ve moved to Nova Scotia, what do I need to do with my Will?
To avoid any legal issues, you should consult an estate lawyer who is familiar with the laws of Nova Scotia. They can review your Will and make any necessary adjustments to ensure that it complies with the local regulations. This way, you can have peace of mind that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes when you pass away.
You should also think about who you have chosen as your executor. If your executor lives far away, they may face challenges and delays in administering your estate. For example, if you relocate from Bc to Nova Scotia, your executor in BC may have trouble dealing with your affairs in Nova Scotia. Some of the tasks involved in estate administration require the executor to be physically present. Therefore, it is advisable to select an executor who lives in the same province as you. You may want to change your executor after moving to a new province for this reason.
I’m temporarily moving to Nova Scotia for work, do I still need to update my Will?
One of the key terms in estate law is “domicile”, which refers to your permanent home. Your domicile affects which country’s or province’s estate laws will govern your Will. In this blog, we used the phrase “moving to another province” to mean someone who is relocating permanently and changing their domicile. This means that the estate laws of the old province will not apply to their Will a when you die, your Will is executed in your domicile.
For instance, if someone moves from BC for 3 years to work in Nova Scotia and plans to return to BC afterwards, they don’t have to update their Will. Their domicile remains BC, even if they live in Nova Scotia temporarily. Their Will is executed in BC, no matter where they die.
If you’re thinking of moving to another province, consult a qualified estate lawyer to review your existing Will. Sometimes, no changes are necessary; but you should always have a lawyer in your new province check the documents to make sure your estate will be distributed according to your wishes. If your Will is invalid and you die without a Will, the courts will decide how to distribute your estate.
How can I find out if I need my Will rewritten?
Do you have a question about the above information or another legal topic? Contact us today to book a consultation with our Wills and Estate lawyers. For the matter of reviewing an existing Will after moving to Nova Scotia, we offer a free 15 minute consultation. At that time if any re-writing is required, pricing can be discussed.
The above is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice — contact a lawyer to discuss your personal circumstances and learn your options.
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