Common Law Spouses
1. COMMON LAW SPOUSES are not recognized under Nova Scotia legislation as having any rights to the assets of their deceased common law spouse.
- If you have assets in your name alone (property or bank accounts) your common law spouse will have no legal right to those assets and will not inherit anything from your estate.
- If you have minor children with your common law spouse the children will inherit your assets, but they will be held in trust by the Public Trustee until that child reaches the age of majority and then given to the child outright.
2. If you ARE MARRIED and have no will your surviving spouse does not automatically inherit all of your assets.
- If you have one child, your spouse and child will split your assets equally.
- If you have more than one child, your spouse will inherit 1/3 of the assets and your children will split the other 2/3.
- If you have minor children their inheritance will be held in trust by the Public Trustee until that child is the age of majority and then given to the child outright.
3. If you GET MARRIED after the date on which a will is made that will is no longer valid.
- You no longer have a will and your assets will be distributed in accordance with Nova Scotia legislation (see #2 above).
4. If you get DIVORCED (or an annulment) after the date on which your will is made the references to your former spouse are revoked and it is as if they were never written in the will.
- If your former spouse was appointed as your executor that appointment no longer exists.
- If your former spouse was named as a beneficiary that gift will no longer occur.
5. If you are SEPARATED BUT NOT DIVORCED and have a will, any reference to your spouse from whom you are separated remains within the will.
- If your spouse from whom you are separated was appointed as your executor that appointment remains.
- If your spouse from whom you are separated was named as a beneficiary that gift will be valid.
Is this how you would want your assets distributed? If not I would encourage you to seek out legal advice to draw up a will or develop an estates plan that suits your needs.