Understanding the Probate Process in Nova Scotia

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Understanding the Probate Process in Nova Scotia: What Happens After You Pass Away?

The probate process in Nova Scotia involves several steps, and may vary based on the complexity of the estate and individual circumstances.

Here is a general overview of the probate process in Nova Scotia:

A pictograph shows the first four steps of the probate process in Nova Scotia

1. Opening the Estate; the First Step of the Probate Process in Nova Scotia:

The person applying to administer the estate, known as the “administrator” or “executor,” submits a probate application to the Probate Court. This application typically includes details about the deceased person, the Will (if there is one), and an inventory of the estate’s assets. An applicant for probate is an “executor” if the deceased left a Will, and an “administrator” if the deceased did not leave a Will or none of the executors named in the Will is able or willing to act as such.

2. Court Review:

The Probate Court reviews the application to ensure that it meets the legal requirements to continue with the probate process in Nova Scotia. If everything is in order, the court issues a Grant of Probate, which is a legal document that confirms the validity of the Will and grants the authority to the executor to administer the estate. If there was no Will, the Court issues a Grant of Administration, which grants the administrator the same authority.

3. Notice to Beneficiaries and Creditors:

The executor is responsible for notifying beneficiaries and creditors about the probate process. In Nova Scotia, this part of the process consists of advertising in the Royal Gazette for 6 months to see if anyone has a claim against the estate.

4. Inventory and Valuation, a Detail Oriented Part of the Probate Process in Nova Scotia:

The executor compiles a detailed inventory of the deceased person’s assets and liabilities. This may include real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and debts. The executor may need to obtain valuations for certain assets.

A pictorgraph shows the last 4 steps of the probate process in Nova Scotia.

5. Paying Debts and Expenses:

The executor uses the estate’s assets to pay off any outstanding debts, funeral expenses, and administrative costs.This part of the probate process in Nova Scotia requires you to keep detailed records.

6. Final Accounting:

The executor may prepare a final accounting, detailing all transactions and distributions made during the probate process in Nova Scotia. This accounting is typically submitted to the Probate Court for approval. Accounts are not always necessary where the deceased left a Will, but it may be mandatory in certain circumstances, such as when some of the beneficiaries are minors.

If there was no Will, the administrator must prepare a set of accounts and serve a copy on all heirs to the estate. The heirs to an intestate estate (the name for an estate where there was no Will) are determined by the Intestate Succession Act, and typically include a surviving spouse or children.

7. Closing the Estate, the End of the Probate Process in Nova Scotia:

When the deceased left a Will, the beneficiaries may choose to close the estate informally, without seeking an order from the court. However, they can also choose to require the executor to provide formal accounts.

In the case of an intestate estate, the administrator must usually seek an order from the Probate Court approving the final accounts for the estate. After the court approves the final accounting, the estate can be officially closed. The court issues an order declaring that it approves the accounts, and the executor’s or administrator’s duties are complete.

8. Distributing Assets to Beneficiaries:

Once debts and expenses are settled, and the advertising period is over, the executor distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the Will.

It’s important to note that the probate process in Nova Scotia can be complex, and legal advice is highly recommended. Executors often seek assistance from probate lawyers to navigate the legal requirements and ensure a smooth administration of the estate. Additionally, laws and procedures may change, so consulting with a legal professional in Nova Scotia for the most up-to-date information is advisable. At Brookshire Law Office we have both probate lawyers and advanced estate planning lawyers.

Brookshire Law Office, your probate and estate planning partners.

If you are an executor looking for help with the probate process, please reach out to us to book an appointment with our probate lawyer Alan Freckelton. He can assist you with the process making sure everything runs smoothly.

Our advanced estate planning lawyers are here for people with estates valuing near or more than half a million dollars. They can help you set up your estate so as to minimize any unnecessary probate taxes or even avoid it altogether. By classifying your assets with the Probate Court and consulting with your accountants, insurance or investment advisors, we can help you protect what you have worked so hard for, ensuring a strategic and tax-efficient estate plan that aligns with your financial goals and secures a legacy for your loved ones. Book your advanced estate planning appointment with estate planning lawyer Shawn Scott. Shawn also provides regular estate planning.

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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