There are two kinds of WILLS; a Formal WILL and a Holographic WILL.
A holographic Will is a classic do-it-yourself Will. It is a Will that is 100% handwritten. The entire Will must be in the handwriting of the Testator; a typed Will is not accepted as a legal Holographic Will. These are not recognized in all provinces but Alberta is one of the provinces in Canada that recognizes handwritten Wills. Holographic Wills do not have to be witnessed. If you are going to do this as a short term personal planning fix, it is best to keep it to a couple of lines to indicate who you are, who your executor will be and who you are leaving your entire estate to when you die. Remember to sign & date this and give a copy to your executor. Next, set a timeline to get a professionally prepared Will.
A formal Will is typed out and includes Wills drafted by lawyers and Will kits you can buy. An audio recording or a video are not valid. It’s best to keep this document as simple as possible. Add a letter to your executor for clarification on specifics.
A testator must be mentally capable and cannot be a minor. The Will must be dated and signed and witnessed by 2 witnesses present at the same time who attest that the document is the Will of the testator and bears his or her signature. The witnesses to the Will should be of legal age and cannot be beneficiaries of the Will or spouse of the testator.
A formal Will package should also include an Enduring Power of Attorney and a Personal Directive which will empower someone you trust to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf in the event you become unable to do so at some point either temporarily or for a longer period.
Dying without a Will? This is governed by the Wills and Succession Act in Alberta. This sets out how a deceased person’s estate will be distributed and who will inherit. The Estate Administration Act lists the persons who will be given preference to apply for a grant of Administration where there is no will. This process will at a minimum involve delays, expense and frustration. If there are minor children involved, the Public Guardian (Government) is likely to be involved in raising your children. Any opportunity for you to have a say in gifting heirlooms, assets/cash or for effective tax planning are lost.
Recommendation? The money spent to have a proper Will done is well worth it. Your loved ones will thank you.