Probate for Small NS Estates

Courthouse for estate probate

In Nova Scotia, it is possible to avoid standard probate under certain circumstances:

Assets That Bypass Probate

There's no need for probate if the estate consists solely of assets that bypass probate, such as assets held in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship (e.g., a home) assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., RRSPs, life insurance policies), accounts Payable on Death, and other standard probate exclusions.

Custodian Cooperation

Even if there are assets that do not automatically transfer on death, you may be able to avoid probate if the existing asset custodians allow you to take possession of the assets without a probate Grant of Letters. However, if a custodian such as a financial institution requires such Letters, then probate will be required.

Public Trustee

If there is no will, the public trustee can settle an estate worth <$25,000, which can save a lot of unnecessary work on the part of a potential personal representative (see Public Trustee Act, RSNS 1989, c 379, s 22A).

Real Property

If the estate contains real property (i.e., real estate) that does not automatically transfer on death, then probate will almost always be required.


If there are disputes about the will, or debts, you will most likely want to go through probate in any case, for the legal protections and process it provides


In Nova Scotia, the local Probate Court handles probate and estate administration (see courthouse locations).

These common NS probate forms may be helpful.

See also General Probate.

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