What are the requirements for a will to be valid in Canada?

A will is vital for ensuring that your property is dealt with according to your wishes in the event that you die.   If a person dies without a will, the property is distributed to your closest relatives according to statute, and the process is more complicated for those you leave behind.  Charities, common law spouses, or close friends would receive nothing.  If you have custody of a minor child, a will can also state your preference as to who should take custody after your death.

A professionally prepared will is not legally mandatory.  However, if you have any significant amount of property it is highly advisable.  A person unfamiliar with the law may make mistakes that impose costs and anguish on those they leave behind.

Each province has slightly different laws that a will must follow. Below are the general criteria that you need to obey to create a legal will in most parts of Canada.

  1. The will must be written in a physical form – that is, on paper, rather than just being in a digital or electronic format.
  2. Your must be over the age of majority and you must be of sound mind. (Underage people can create a will if they are married, have children, or a member of the armed forces.)
  3. If the will is in typed format, you need two witnesses who must see you signing the will and then sign their names in each others’ presence. Normally, all three of you had to be physically present in the same location.  However, in Ontario the rules have been eased during the coronavirus emergency to permit witnessing by video link, as long as one of the witnesses is a licensed lawyer or paralegal.
  4. A person who is a beneficiary under the will, or their spouse, must not be a witness, as this would make the bequest to that beneficiary void.
  5. A less formal will known as a holograph will can also be valid without witnesses. It must be entirely in your own handwriting and with your signature.
  6. In either kind of will, your signature must be at the very end of the will.

If you are looking for a will lawyer or an estate lawyer in Toronto then call Rogerson Law Group at 416-504-2259 for a consultation today.