A Will is your opportunity to ensure that your estate is handled and that the ones you trust most are carrying out your wishes properly. If you don’t have a Will, you fall under the Intestate Succession Act in Nova Scotia, and people may only apply to administer your estate based on the order set out in legislation. The person who is appointed may not be someone who you would want to have that job. Furthermore, in Nova Scotia, it is even more important to have a Will if you are in a common law relationship, as only legally married parties qualify as spouses under the appointment of your representative and would be entitled to assets on your death under the legislation.
A Will is a document that is prepared from your own instructions. One of the most important parts of your Will is the appointment of someone to look after your affairs after you die. This person can be called an executor or executrix, but to simplify things, we often refer to them as a personal representative. That person usually also becomes your trustee which means they hold all the property of your estate “in trust” for your beneficiaries.
Provided your Will is executed properly, it allows your personal representative(s) to apply for a grant of probate to administer your estate. This grant of probate means that the probate court has given your appointed representative the authority to do their job.
The other important part of a Will is that it tells the personal representative to whom you wish to give your property (your beneficiaries). Once the personal representative has confirmed that all the debts of the estate are paid, they have the authority to distribute your estate provided they are abiding by the terms of the Will.
Lastly, a Will can also appoint someone to care for any minor or disabled children, and can appoint people to hold money in trust for those dependents.
Legislation protects beneficiaries from estate representatives who are not performing their tasks appropriately, holds them personally responsible for unpaid debts, and sets out the process for their removal.
You may have real property (land, house) in which case someone will have to be appointed to transfer those items out of your estate. Banks also may ask for a grant of probate before they will let monies be withdrawn from the account of a deceased person.
An estate planning lawyer can help you make the kids of decisions that can help your family and loves ones when they need it most. Call today to schedule your estate planning appointment.
Partner - Property/Estate Planning