How to Write a Will in Canada

Writing a Canadian will is a relatively straightforward procedure that you can do on your own. However, if you have really valuable items to bequeath, it is a good idea to involve a lawyer in the composition of the will in order to avoid subsequent disputes. Alone or assisted by a legal expert, here are the basic guidelines you should follow when you are drawing up the will:

1. Decide on the legal guardianship of any dependents that you have. Even if you have already made arrangements with a godmother and godfather, it is best to notate in the will that your relationship with the godparents has not changed.

2. Start the will by giving your full name and your current place of residence on the territory of Canada. Proceed by stating that you are of sound mind and memory and that this is your last will. Then add a date to the document.

3. Enlist your living relatives and their addresses: you can start with your spouse and then continue with your children, parents, and siblings. After that, mention relatives from your extended family and finish the list with any non-relatives (friends, business partners, charities, etc.) whom you would like to benefit from the will.

4. Draw up a list of all the items you want to give away and provide a sufficiently willdetailed description for each item. If you possess items that are quire similar, make sure you include the tiniest details that can help distinguish them. Below the description, state the name of the person who will receive the particular item.

5. Give the full name of the executor of the will. This is the person who will make sure that your will has been carried out according to your wishes. State the executor’s address even if you have already enlisted it in a preceding paragraph. To ensure the proper fulfillment of the will, appoint a couple of other executors in case the first one has passed away by the time the will must be enacted. Once again provide the executors’ full names and addresses.

6. Pursuant to the relevant Canadian legislation, there should be two witnesses present at the time you sign the will. Have these witnesses sign the document as well. At the end of your will, there should be three signatures in total along with the date when they were affixed.

7. Lock the will in a secure place, e.g. a safety box in a bank or a safe at home, where it will stay until the day it should be carried out. Notify the executor of the will’s whereabouts so that they will know where to find it after your demise. Consider making a copy of the will in case the original is lost or destroyed. You can keep one copy at home and ask the executor to keep another one.

8. In the event of substantial changes in your social and marital status (e.g. if you get married or divorce, have children born or suffer the loss of a family member), update your will to accommodate these changes.