Financial Planning -> Wills and Estates -> Legal Will
Do You Need a Lawyer to Write a Legal Will?
This may depend on the laws of your province.
In British Columbia, a will does not need to be processed by a lawyer or notary in order to be considered "legal". At the very least, you should check out will kits, which are readily available online. However, if an estate is complicated, professional advice is advised in order to avoid problems.
In BC, a will is not legal unless it is in writing (handwritten or typed), signed by the testator (the person making the will), and witnessed by two people, with the exception of testators who are in the armed forces, or are mariners. The two witnesses must see the testator sign the will, and the testator must see both witnesses sign the will. See How to make a valid will in the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, SBC 2009.
If a witness or the spouse of a witness is named in the will as a beneficiary, the bequest to the witness or the spouse of the witness will likely be invalid but this may depend on your province, and whether any undue influence was exercised on the testator. See Potential Cost of Witnessing a Will by Gillian Fournie, lawyer with de Vries Litigation LLP. This article references a BC Supreme Court case, as well as Ontario's Succession Law Reform Act. The remainder of the will is still valid even if a gift to a beneficiary is invalid.
See our Will Sample for an example of a simple will.
For information regarding what happens in each province, see What to do when someone dies, which has links to wills and estate information on provincial/territorial websites.
Best to get your will prepared, or at least checked, by a lawyer, notary or estate planner to ensure it complies with current laws.
To avoid complications and court costs, do not have a beneficiary or their spouse witness a will!
Revised: November 06, 2021
Copyright © 2002 Boat Harbour Investments Ltd. All Rights Reserved. See Reproduction of information from TaxTips.ca