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How to Calculate Probate Fees in Nova Scotia

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    Probate is the legal process that validates wills for individuals who have passed away. It also involves accepting executors to their roles so estates can be settled. Probate is not always required, though it is more likely if the person who has passed away died without a will (intestate). 

    In this article, we’ll look at probate and estate administration in Nova Scotia, how probate fees are calculated in Nova Scotia, and ways to lower potential probate fees.

    ↓ Jump to our probate fee calculator

    Key takeaways

    • Probate is the process of legally accepting a will and appointing someone as executor or administrator
    • In Nova Scotia, probate isn’t mandatory. Probate is more likely for estates with solely owned assets, large or complex estates or estates without a will
    • Probate fees are paid out of the estate
    • Nova Scotia has a tiered probate fee system based on the total value of the estate, so estates that are higher value pay higher probate fees

    What are probate fees?

    Probate fees, sometimes referred to as probate taxes or estate administration taxes, are paid to the probate court when someone — typically the executor — submits an application for a grant of probate as part of the estate settlement process.

    Who is responsible for paying probate fees?

    Probate fees are paid out of the estate’s assets. If the estate has sufficient liquid assets, the executor may use these funds to pay the probate fees directly. If not, they may need to explore other options, such as obtaining a loan from the estate or a beneficiary. This borrowed amount would later be repaid using assets from the estate once the probate process is complete.

    How much are probate fees in Nova Scotia?

    Probate fees in Nova Scotia are applied through a tiered system based on the total value of the estate. Outlined in section 87(2) of the Probate Act, the fee tiers are broken down as follows:

    Value of Estate Probate Fee
    $10,000 or less $85.60
    Over $10,000 to $25,000 $215.20
    Over $25,000 to $50,000 $358.15
    Over $50,000 to $100,000 $1002.65
    Over $100,000 $1002.65 + $16.95 for every $1,000 or fraction thereof above $100,000

    These Nova Scotia probate fees are valid as of April 2024. Accessed from the Government of Nova Scotia.

    🧮 Example of calculating probate fees A resident of Nova Scotia has passed away. In their will, they name their spouse as executor and leave most of their estate to their spouse, with some gifts for other family and friends. The value of their estate is $902,000.

    If their estate requires probate, this is how it will be calculated:

    = 1002.65 + (((902000 - 100000) ÷ 1000) × 16.95)

    = 1002.65 + ((802000 ÷ 1000) × 16.95)

    = 1002.65 + (802 × 16.95)

    = 1002.65 + 13593.90

    = 14,596.55

    The total probate fee payable to the court when submitting the probate application would be $14,596.55

    Nova Scotia probate fee calculator

    Nova Scotia Probate Fee Calculator

    Input a few details, and our Nova Scotia Probate Tax Calculator will provide an estimated probate tax amount for the estate.

    How do I avoid probate fees in Nova Scotia?

    Remember, not all wills have to go through probate in Nova Scotia. A will might not need probate if any of the following apply:

    If you're unsure if these fit your situation, making a smart estate plan can help with avoiding probate fees. This can include:

    1. Make a will: Without a will, probate is almost certain because the courts will need to appoint an estate administrator. Making a valid will helps avoid probate and protect your loved ones. This is crucial for common law partners, especially, because Nova Scotia does not recognize common law partners as “spouses” who can automatically inherit under intestates laws.
    2. In appropriate circumstances, add a joint owner to your assets: Jointly owned assets skip probate and go straight to the surviving owner(s).
    3. Designate beneficiaries on your life insurance and registered accounts: By naming beneficiaries for RRSPs, RRIFs, etc., these assets avoid probate. 
    4. Keep your will updated: Ensure your will is up to date with your current assets and choices for executors, beneficiaries, guardians, and more. This helps accurately value your estate and avoid probate.

    ✏️ Update your will for free →

    Preparing your estate for the future

    Planning for what happens to your assets after you're gone is important, especially in Nova Scotia, where probate fees are calculated using a tiered system. 

    Making your estate plan not only allows you to dictate who receives your belongings or looks after your children. It also minimizes your family’s stress during probate if your estate needs to be probated in the future. 

    Creating your will, power of attorney documents, and asset list allows you to keep records of your wishes, assets and debts and can streamline the probate process and potentially lower fees in the future. 

    And you can do it all easily and affordably on an online will platform like Willful.

    Plan for everything. Start your documents today →

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