What is a will?

A will is a written document prepared according to your instructions that gives direction as to what will happen with your property upon your death. There are several requirements that need to be satisfied for a will to be recognized as valid. Some of these include:

  1. you must be of legal age (in Ontario which means that you are 18 years of age);
  2. have testamentary capacity (generally this means that you understand your responsibilities and have knowledge of your assets); and
  3. you are not subject to any undue pressure from someone when deciding who will receive your assets upon death.

A will to be valid, generally, must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who have no interest in receiving a benefit in the will.

A will should name a person or persons to administer and have the responsibility to carry the instructions in the will. This person is called the Estate Trustee (formerly Executor).

All wills should include instructions concerning some or all of the following:

  1. to pay debts, funeral expenses, and income taxes;
  2. gifting of personal possessions and household furnishings;
  3. gifts to those whom you wish to benefit including family members, friends or charities;
  4. trust provisions if there are children or young adults as beneficiaries; and
  5. names of persons to act as guardians of children.

Although it is legally possible to prepare your own will, it is not advisable to do so. There are many potential complications and an unintended result may occur if you try to draft your own will without experienced legal assistance. Let one of our experienced lawyers help you with ensuring your final wishes are captured in your will.