Every Canadian adult should have a Will in place. It is a document that should be written as you turn 18 or 19, and should be updated throughout your life as your circumstances change. If we know that everybody should have a Will, it’s a reasonable question: is there a Government of Canada Will Kit that is made available to every Canadian? And if so, how do I get one?
The short answer is: “No, there is no Government of Canada Will kit”. This article explains why there isn’t, and what other options may be available to you.
What is a Will kit?
To understand a Will kit, you have to understand what constitutes a legal Last Will and Testament. The requirements for a legal Will are that it must be in writing, on paper, and signed in the presence of two witnesses. There is no requirement to write a Will with a lawyer, or to have it stamped or registered. It simply needs to be a piece of paper that clearly states that the document is your Last Will and Testament. Ideally, it should include an Executor appointment, but at a minimum it should explain who will be receiving what parts of your “estate” (all of your assets, possessions, and financial assets).
There are essentially three approaches to writing a Will in Ontario.
- You can write your own Will starting with a blank sheet of paper or a blank form Will kit
- You can prepare your Will with a professional lawyer
- You can use Will writing software like the service at LegalWills.ca
Background to Ontario Law
In Ontario, a Will must comply with the Ontario Succession Law Reform Act of 1990. The law states that:
- A Will is only valid if it is in writing (video Wills, audio recordings, or verbal promises are not legally accepted)
- At the end of the document it must be signed by the “testator” (person for whom the Will is made) and also signed by two witnesses.
- The testator may make a valid will completely in their own handwriting and signature, without the presence, attestation, or signature of a witness (this is a “holographic Will”).
There are other interesting clauses within the Succession Law Reform Act, including the minimum age, and special clauses for active military service members. However, the clauses we have highlighted are the most pertinent to the discussion of how to make a legal Will in Ontario.