Legislation simplifies handling a loved one’s estate

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HALIFAX – Legislative changes introduced Wednesday will help bring faster closure for families handling an estate after the loss of a loved one.

Amendments to the Public Trustee Act will give heirs a simpler, less expensive way to administer estates. Other changes to the Adult Protection Act and the Hospitals Act, as well as the Public Trustee Act, will clarify the role of the Public Trustee of Nova Scotia dealing with living estates.

"The public trustee deals with families and heirs during very trying times in their lives," said Justice Minister Lena Diab in a press release. "We want to be sure that estates get concluded as quickly as possible so they are able to move on."

The amendments to the Public Trustee Act will allow the public trustee to use a simpler process to administer estates valued at less than $25,000. It is already used in some cases and will be expanded to include cases where heirs cannot agree on who should administer the estate. It will also include cases where the public trustee was looking after the deceased's property while they were living.

The amendments to the Public Trustee Act, the Adult Protection Act and the Hospitals Act will clarify the role of the public trustee as a statutory guardian of an incompetent person's estate. In these cases, the trustee would have authority to sell, mortgage or place a legal claim on any property associated with the estate. Public trustees in seven other Canadian jurisdictions have this authority.

"The current laws can slow down the administration of certain estates," said M. Estelle Theriault, Public Trustee of Nova Scotia. "These changes will really improve the efficiency of the public trustee and help ensure we are able to save time and money for the estate."

The Public Trustee of Nova Scotia is an independent body that administers estates of deceased, incompetent or missing people and children. It also provides informed consents for health care, placement in a continuing-care home or home-care services, respecting human rights and freedoms, and in the client's best interests if prior wishes, values and beliefs are not known.

Organizations: Public Trustee of Nova Scotia

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