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Access to Justice and Law Reform Institute of Nova Scotia Consultation

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The Access to Justice and Law Reform Institute of Nova Scotia is seeking input on its proposals for discussion to amend the Intestate Succession Act. The Institute recently released a Discussion Paper which makes a number of recommendations to reform the nearly 50-year-old property distribution scheme for Nova Scotians who die intestate. Among other things, the Discussion Paper addresses the scope and treatment of spouses under the Act, the impact of divorce and separation on rights of inheritance, and changes to the way “issue” are understood in light of the changing family form and advances in assisted reproductive technologies.

The Institute’s proposals for discussion are designed to better align the Act with the social and economic reality of Nova Scotia families, simplify and clarify the law, and make it easier to administer intestate estates.

The Discussion Paper is available on the Institute’s website (here). The Institute invites comment on all of its proposals as part of its broader consultation. In particular, it seeks input on the following key questions:

  1. Should common law partners be included under the Act? Why or why not, and if so, how?
  2. Should the Act’s preferential and distributive share system of distribution be reformed? Why? How?
  3. Should the spousal home election option be reformed or abolished? Why?
  4. Is the Act’s treatment of stepchildren, informally adopted children, and children adopted through customary practices in need of reform? Why?
  5. How should the Act treat “issue” (descendants) who are conceived posthumously with an intestate person’s genetic material?
  6. Should the Act’s treatment of the doctrine of advancement be reformed? Why?
  7. Should there be a simplified process for administering modest intestate estates? What should that process look like?

The Institute is pleased to accept written submissions at sarahb@lawreform.ns.ca, and staff are available to receive comments by phone or in person. We ask that comments be submitted by September 30, 2019

The Institute has also published a public survey, for a general audience. It is designed to be user-friendly and accessible to non-lawyers. Members of the Nova Scotia Bar are invited to bring the survey to the attention of their clients and other interested organizations and members of the public. The survey is available here

Print copies of the paper are available upon request. 

The Access to Justice & Law Reform Institute is an independent agency funded by the Law Foundation of Nova Scotia, & the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia. The Institute also receives support from the Schulich School of Law and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.