What do I need to think about when making a will?

1. Decide how you want to make your will

There are 4 ways to make a will.

Use CLEO’s Guided Pathways

CLEO's Wills Guided Pathway is a free online interview that helps you create a create a simple will and appoint an executor for that will.

Use this interview to make a simple will.

Write a holograph will

A holograph will is one you write completely in your own handwriting. If you make a holograph will, make sure it states:

  • your full name
  • that it is your “last will and testament”
  • who you appoint as your
  • what your wishes are

You don't need any witnesses. But you must sign it at the very end. And it's a good idea to put a date on it.

There is no cost to make a holograph will. But if it's not done correctly, it will not be valid. For example, it can't be typed, or part handwritten and part typed, or have any parts that are already printed like a form will.

Use a form will kit

A form will is one you make using a kit that you buy online or from a store. Make sure the kit is based on the law of Ontario. Will kits usually have blank parts that you have to fill in.

If you use a form will kit, make sure you follow all the rules for making a formal will. This means:

  • The will must be dated.
  • You must sign the will in front of 2 witnesses.
  • Each witness must also sign the will in front of you and the other witness.
  • One of the witnesses should sign an  that confirms that you signed the will in front of both of the witnesses, who also signed the will.

The price of a form will kit ranges from $20 to $50 and sometimes much more. But using a will kit does not guarantee that your will is done correctly.

Hire a lawyer to make a formal will

A formal will is one that follows all the rules for making a will. This means:

  • The will must be dated.
  • You must sign the will in front of 2 witnesses who are not named in the will as .
  • Each witness must also sign the will in front of you and the other witness.
  • One of the witnesses should sign an affidavit of execution that confirms that you signed the will in front of both of the witnesses, who also signed the will.

Estate lawyers usually charge between $500 and $1,000 to make a basic will, power of attorney for property, and power of attorney for personal care. Their fee depends on how complicated your situation is.

Your situation can be more complicated if you:

  • own property and in more than one country
  • have a business
  • have a dependant who needs long-term medical care or who is receiving government benefits
  • have children from a previous marriage
  • are living with a and have a you have not yet divorced

If you have a large or complicated , it's a good idea to talk to a financial advisor as well as an estates lawyer.

Virtual witnessing

In March 2021, the law changed so that wills can be and witnessed virtually or remotely.

This means that people can have their will commissioned and witnessed in person with everyone in the same room or remotely using audio-visual technology. This includes Skype, Zoom, Webex, and FaceTime.

The law firm Hull & Hull has a checklist for signing a will that can help you follow the rules about using audio-visual technology, for example:

  • You and your 2 witnesses must be able to see, hear, and speak to each other at the same time.
  • One of the witnesses must be a lawyer or paralegal, who's licensed by the Law Society of Ontario.
  • Everyone must sign an identical copy of the document at the same time.

Your will is made up of all these copies.

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