Holographic Wills in Canada: Can You Write Your Own Will?
A holographic Will is a last Will and testament that is handwritten by its author, known as a testator. It’s usually created in emergency situations and tends to be short and to the point. To create a holographic Will, a testator writes out their wishes and signs their name with no witnesses present. Holographic Wills are recognized in all provinces except for British Columbia and Prince Edward Island.
There are risks with writing your Will by hand. During probate, it has to meet specific requirements to be valid – including that the Will was created by you, that you were of sound mind while writing it, and details for how you want your assets to be distributed after your death.
A holographic Will isn’t for everyone and if you’re estate planning early, then using a trusted online Will provider or lawyer can help you express your wishes in a legally binding document and give you peace of mind to go along with it.
Is a Holographic Will Legal?
Yes, holographic Wills are considered legal in the following provinces:
Newfoundland and Labrador
Because inheritance law is a provincial matter, each region has its own laws around the validity of holographic Wills. Most provincial governments include reference to holographic Wills in their legislation.
While British Columbia and Prince Edward Island don’t include holographic Wills in their respective Probate and Estate Acts, they do include an exemption for military members and seamen – specifying that they can create a holographic Will.
Does a Holographic Will Need to be Witnessed?
Typically, holographic Wills are not signed in the presence of witnesses and they can still be valid. Usually Wills that are typed out and printed need to be signed in the presence of two witnesses to be executed properly and considered valid.
Often holographic Wills are created in an emergency situation and there is no time to seek out others to witness signing the document.
Holographic Will requirements
In order for a holographic Will to be valid, it needs to meet certain requirements to be accepted into probate:
It must be written entirely by the testator, in their handwriting. Their handwriting may need to be verified by a loved one or handwriting expert.
It needs to be legible.
The testator needed to be mentally capable of writing the Will at the time.
Estate wishes need to be made clear, including designating beneficiaries for property.
It can be tricky to interpret and enforce last wishes if they’re not formalized in a printed Will or signed in front of witnesses. The basis for a valid holographic Will is that it needs to reflect the testator’s true intentions regarding the disposition of their estate.
Pros and Cons of Holographic Wills
While valid, holographic Wills are not always ideal. Here are some of the pros and cons to writing out your own Will.
Completely free way to create a Will.
Written by yourself.
Less effort required.
It may be an individual's only or last chance to express their wishes.
Easy to misinterpret.
Runs the risk of being invalid in certain instances.
Important elements may be missing.
Amendments or copies can lead to contradictory wishes.
Difficult to prove certain aspects, such as the mental capacity of the testator.
Disputes or conflicts among loved ones if wishes are unclear.
Probate can be costly if it runs into complications.
Not legal or recognized everywhere.
What to Include in Your Will
A holographic Will should contain the same elements as a printed Will. This includes:
Property distribution and beneficiaries
Guardians for your children and/or pets
Holographic Wills may only consist of a few lines – which is why it’s important to include as much as possible to avoid any issues after your death.
Get Peace of Mind With a Will From Epilogue Wills
The purpose of a last Will and testament is to make your wishes known and clearly state where to distribute your property upon your passing.
These instructions and requests can be quite lengthy and complicated, depending on your estate. It’s important that there are no ambiguities or errors that could potentially invalidate your Will.
Although holographic Wills may prove useful in the direst of circumstances, it’s best to start estate planning early to ensure you have no issues.
A safe and reliable option is with Epilogue Wills. They guide you through the process of creating your Will from start to finish, using easy-to-answer questions. You can have a custom, legally-binding Will printed and mailed to you in no time at all.