Top News

LETTER: Probate system needs to be simplified

Government should always be looking for ways to make the day-to-day lives

of Nova Scotians easier.

One area we can do a lot better is probate and estates.

Under the current probate legislation, if a person dies without holding everything jointly with another individual, then probate may be required in order to access the estate (bank accounts, property, etc.)

This means that if you want to access a bank account in the deceased’s name, you’re supposed to have a grant of probate – that requires hiring a lawyer, a lot of paperwork, time, effort, and money.

Too often, especially in smaller estates, the decision is made that the time and money required to access the estate are simply not worth it and the account sits untouched forever.

Our system should not discourage or deter individuals from receiving what their loved ones left for them.

We need to make things easier.

In civil litigation, we recognize the need for a more time and cost-efficient process, and as a result, we have a Small Claims Court. Why can’t we apply this concept to probate?

By engaging legal experts we can work towards making sure the system is simplified and the principles of protecting individuals through probate are maintained.

The whole purpose behind probate is for the protection of beneficiaries. We can’t eliminate that safeguard but we need to look at alternatives. How about a “Simple Estates” division to existing probate legislation. Other provinces have adopted similar legislation with success. We can too.

Like Small Claims Court, if the estate is valued at less than $25,000, an expedited process could be established, providing simplified forms that would be available online with clear instructions outlining the process, documents, and timeline.

Let’s start thinking outside the box for fresh ideas that can go a long way to make things easier.

Tim Houston

MLA for Pictou East and Leadership Candidate for the PC Party of Nova Scotia

Recent Stories