Providing Peace of Mind

By Stephen J. Topshee

You know the importance of having a Last Will and Testament, but did you know that certain gifts or bequests in your will could create unnecessary complications for your estate?

“I’ve seen this many times in my estate practise,” comments Stephen Topshee with Burchell MacDougall’s Truro office.

“When preparing your will, you want to make sure your loved ones have been provided for after your passing,” he says, “However, not many are aware that gifting something to a person who has yet to turn 19, the age of majority in Nova Scotia, adds an extra step in the estate process.”

If a minor beneficiary is named in a will, the Executor of the estate may have to ask the Probate Court to assign a Litigation Guardian for the minor.

“The Litigation Guardian reviews the will, estate documentation and provincial legislation, and assesses whether the minor beneficiary has been properly provided for in the will,” Stephen explains.

They will also assess the possibility of a claim against the estate, and determine how long the bequest must be kept in trust for the minor, depending on the size and amount of the gift.  When everything is determined to be in order, they will sign the necessary forms to allow the Executor to finalize and close the estate.

“The Litigation Guardian is a lawyer who is familiar with estate law and is appointed by the Probate Court,” he explains, “They will charge the estate for services rendered, subject to taxation by the Probate Court, which is an added expense payable by the estate.”

While will kits meet the basic criteria to create a valid will, and may seem simple and cost-effective, they don’t offer advice and expertise on potentially complicated details like minor beneficiaries.

“An appointment with a lawyer specializing in estate law provides peace of mind when determining your legacy and properly providing for your family.”

This article is for information only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions or would like further information, you should consult a lawyer.