Written by Owen Thompson on December 7, 2017
There are no legal requirements in the Province of Ontario that state that a will must be written by a lawyer. The law specifically provides for a “holograph” will, which is a document written entirely in the handwriting of the person making the will. Even a typed document can be prepared without a legal professional, as long as it is signed by the testator and witnessed by two independent witnesses.
This does not mean that any document written by a person can be considered a will, no matter what the format. In order for a court to consider a document a will, it must meet certain criteria, including the witness requirements, as discussed above. If any institution, including banks, insurance companies, or the court, have any questions about the validity of a document meant to be a will after a person has died, a full (and expensive) court hearing may be required. At this hearing a judge will determine if the criteria for a will has been met and if the instructions in the document are enforceable. Your estate assets may be responsible for paying the costs of such a hearing, meaning less is available to pass to your beneficiaries.
It can be risky to prepare your own will if you are not familiar with the regulations and laws that define a legal will. If a judge determines the document in question is not a will, then your estate will be administered according to Ontario law for intestate persons (people who died without a will) despite any instructions or wishes expressed by you in the questioned document.
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