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How To Make A Will In Canada

By IntFormalities
Published on June 23, 2023
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Though death is something most people do not like to discuss, everyone will, unfortunately, encounter it. As people become older, they will need to make arrangements for their possessions once they have passed away. These arrangements are usually made through a will (also known as a testament). Among other things, by writing a will, a person ensures their wishes are met. This article will discuss how to make a will in Canada and the steps involved. 

How To Prepare A Will In Canada

Making A Will In Canada

Having a will ensures the possessions are distributed based on the person’s wishes when they pass away and die. The will-making process varies depending on the type of will and the province or territory a person lives in. The general steps involved in making a will in Canada are outlined below. 

Choosing A Suitable Will

There are contrasting types of wills and different ways to make them. Examples of the types of wills include handwritten wills, DIY kits, online wills, and wills drafted by lawyers. These are further discussed in detail under “The 4 Types Of Wills In Canada.” 

Choosing The Executor

When writing a will, you will need to choose an executor. This individual will execute the requests made in a will or a testament. You are free to choose anyone you want to act as the executor. If an executor is not chosen, the courts will appoint someone to take on this role.

Selecting The Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are the people assigned to receive a person’s assets after death. Therefore when writing a will it is important to select beneficiaries.  Otherwise, the courts will decide how the assets are allocated.

Designating A Guardian For Any Dependents

A guardian takes on the legal and financial responsibilities of dependents such as children or pets. Outlining this in detail will ensure legal procedures do not ensue after the death and create unnecessary disruption.

Listing The Funeral Wishes

A person may have particular preferences regarding how the funeral should be conducted. For example, a person could wish to be cremated or want a traditional burial. Stating this will ensure these wishes are met. 

Signing, Witnessing, And Storing The Will Safely

In most instances, the will must be signed and witnessed by two others. And it must be stored in a safe and easily accessible location such that family members and other loved ones can easily access the documents after the person passes away. 

Making The Will Legal

Just because a will has been written, it does not make the document legal. For it to be recognized legally, certain rules must be met. The rules vary from one province to another, but the following are the general steps involved:

  • The will must be stored as a physical copy (except in British Columbia).
  • You must be mentally sound and over the age of the majority of people in the province where you live except in certain circumstances (see “When To Make A Will?” below).
  • The will must be signed in wet ink and witnessed by two others. They must also sign to indicate they have witnessed the person signing the will document.
  • The will needs to be signed at the end of the will document. 

When To Make A Will?

People normally consider making a will later in life. A person must be over the age of the majority of people in their province or territory for it to become valid. Wills are not legal for people below this age (except in certain situations). Exceptions are possible if a person has children, they are married, or belong to the armed forces. It is generally a good idea for anyone to make a will if they own property, a business, or significant financial capital.  

The 4 Types Of Wills In Canada

For a will to become valid, it simply needs to meet the conditions laid out above. It does not need to be prepared by a lawyer. With this in mind, these are the four types of wills available in Canada:

  • Holographic Will (aka handwritten will),
  • Do It Yourself (DIY) will kit,
  • Online platforms,
  • Wills prepared by a lawyer.

1. Holographic Will

This is a will written by hand and signed by the person making the will. This type of will does not require 2 witnesses to be present for it to become valid. This simple will is suitable for those who understand Canadian law as it will enable a person to state their requests without contradiction. It is cost-effective and ideal if a person cannot access other options.

2. Do It Yourself (DIY) Will

These are legal documents with blank spaces for people to enter their requirements. They allow the person to provide details of their estate, executors, beneficiaries, and guardians to look after dependents. It takes on a one size fits all approach and is not suitable for people with complex estates or personal circumstances. DIY will kits are inexpensive and can be purchased for less than $100. You can find an example of a DIY will here.   

3. Online Platforms

The good thing about online will platforms is that they are highly customizable. It is in contrast to DIY will kits that are rigid and only suitable for people with simple requirements. These platforms are incredibly advanced and are a good substitute for a lawyer. The cost will be a fraction of what a lawyer may charge, but a person must be technically savvy to use them. Examples of some of the top online platforms are Willful, Epilogue Wills, and LegalWills.ca.

4. A Will Through A Lawyer

This is the most expensive of the 4 options. But it is also the best way to prepare a will. You will deal with a professional well-versed in legal entities who can provide the best possible advice. It is a good option for those with complex estates or family arrangements. Preparing a will through a lawyer will cost around $1000

Giving You A Peace Of Mind

There are 4 ways to write a will. They range from writing your wishes on paper, DIY toolkits, and preparing a will online to seeking professional help from lawyers. Leaving a will is indeed a good idea. It will ensure your estate is distributed how you want, taking in consideration for family members and other loved ones.

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