Types of Wills: The Ultimate Guide

A will is a will is a will. Isn’t it? Not in Ontario.

The Most Popular Will

When most Ontarians think of wills, they mean an attested will, the kind you pay a lawyer for.  You wouldn’t drive a car without insurance. Why leave your estate to fate? A will lets you decide who receives your property and possessions and name a trustee (or executor) to manage your final affairs. It gives you the assurance your final wishes will be carried out as you intended.

Making a Legal Will

Hiring an Axess Law wills and estates lawyer ensures your will is legal and valid. An attested or formal will means it is witnessed. Your will is professionally prepared and you and two witnesses initial each page and sign it.

Why Are Witnesses Needed?

Witnesses prove the will was made by you. They swear an affidavit confirming they saw you sign it and verify you were mentally competent at the time.

Who Can Witness a Will?

Any adult, although preferably not an heir or their spouse. That can prevent court challenges that you were coerced or intimidated into signing.

Your Worst Nightmare

Betty is 76 and lives alone. Ten years ago, she willed her $800,000 estate to her brother, children and grandchildren. Lately, a new caregiver, Shannon, has been cooking, cleaning and caring for her. Betty has told her banker she wants to leave her home to Shannon. Fortunately, her banker has been asking around. Turns out Shannon has inherited several past clients’ estates.

How a Formal Will Protects You

Who isn’t concerned about fraud? Having an attested reduces your risk. Your will is signed, sealed and delivered to a safety deposit box, wills registry or trusted friend or advisor. 

Can You Make Your Own Will?

You can indeed. A “holographic” will is valid as long as it is entirely handwritten, signed and dated by you. Certain rules apply. For instance, attaching a typed or preprinted, fill-in-the-blanks form to an otherwise handwritten will can make it invalid. Ask us for advice.

Isn’t a Handwritten Will Quicker and Cheaper?

In some ways it is. No witnesses or affidavits are required. On the other hand, you may miss  important details or be challenged in court if your will is unclear. An Axess Law wills and estate lawyer ensures your final will and testament is complete. With so much at stake, why take chances?

When is a Holographic Will Not Advisable?

Make a legally binding will by hiring a lawyer if:

  • you are marrying, separating or divorcing
  • your estate is large 
  • you have out of country assets
  • you have mental illness 
  • or are elderly.

Is a Living Will a Formal Will?

Despite its name, a living will simply states your health care wishes if you are unable to speak for yourself because of illness, injury or age. It’s about you, not your heirs.

If You Have No Will

Believe it or not, many people forget or fail to make a will. They die “intestate”, without leaving any instructions. When that happens, the province divides your estate according to the Ontario Succession Law Reform Act by appointing someone like your closest relative to act for you. Expect a court battle or hurt feelings if the outcome isn’t what your heirs expected.

Write Your Will Today

Make an appointment by calling 1-877-552-9377 or use our online booking form to make an appointment. Lawyers are available 7 days a week, at times convenient for you. We can meet in person, by phone, email or remote video call.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s wills and estate services.