We receive a call almost daily that sounds something like:
“My father has recently died. We know he had a Will, but we can’t find it. What can we do?”
The simple answer is, keep looking. If you die, and nobody can find your Will, the result is exactly the same as dying without a Will. It is called “dying intestate” and your estate will be distributed according to Provincial laws.
All of the time (and money) that you put into preparing your Will counts for nothing if nobody can find it.
Will Registry in Canada
There are some confusing aspects of Will Registration to clear up first.
Every Will in Canada is registered after it is probated. Most Wills in Canada are probated, but this happens after you have died. If you are looking for the Will of somebody who has died, then you can usually find the Will with an application to the local probate courts.
We get this question a lot. “Once I have prepared my Last Will and Testament, and signed it in the presence of two witnesses, what do I do with it to make it legal? How do I register a Will?”
When do you register a Will?
In Canada, there is no way to register a Will until after you have died, and at this time, the Will is registered with the probate courts. In some Provinces, like British Columbia, you are able to register the location of your Will for a fee, with the department of vital statistics. British Columbia is the only Province to offer this.
There is also a private company called Notice Connect working to establish a nationwide centralized registry of Wills. We do partner with Notice Connect who offer free Will registration for LegalWills.ca customers. Again, at the Canada Will Registry you register the location of your Will, they do not store the document itself.