Handwritten wills. They’re the stuff of good TV and movies. How many times have we seen a dramatic scene where the dying individual scribbles their Last Will and Testament on a piece of scrap paper, wanting to be sure that their fortune goes to the dear friend who took care of them in their dying days, squeezing out the son and daughter who hadn’t graced their doorstep in years? Chances are we buy into the scene, sure that the diamonds, acres of land, and the big mansion will make it into the right hands in the end and that the estranged family members will get what’s coming to them.
In reality, however, it’s just not that easy. At our Langley Notary Public, we’ve certainly seen plenty of examples of handwritten wills and – quite often – they’re not valid. Indeed, certain requirements about handwritten wills are set forth as per the Wills Act, section 4, which spells out exactly what needs to be done to make any handwritten will valid in Canada.
In short, a will is not valid unless:
- at its end it is signed by the testator or signed in the testator’s name by some other person in the testator’s presence and by the testator’s direction,
- the testator makes or acknowledges the signature in the presence of 2 or more attesting witnesses present at the same time, and
- 2 or more of the attesting witnesses subscribe the will in the presence of the testator.
Of course, while it’s possible to adhere to those directions, you can be a lot more confident that your will is written correctly if you have the experts at our Langley Notary Public (or any notary public) take care of your will for you.
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document and, as such, a legal expert is the best person to help you put it together.
It’s likely that the only reason individuals or couples choose to draft their wills on their own is cost. However, not hiring a notary public to assist with your will could be even more costly. An improperly drafted will leaves the estate of the deceased at risk, and distributions could end up counter to your wishes. Your spouse or heirs could suffer due to mistakes made with handwritten wills and, at that point, they will likely have no recourse to right these wrongs.
On the other hand, hiring Langley Notary Public means you not only get an expert that can walk you through the steps of writing a Last Will and Testament, but you’ll also be protected by the fact that we are insured. That means that if there’s any problem with your will, including a beneficiary that may have been accidentally excluded, our policy will cover the loss to that beneficiary.
And, remember, it’s never too early to contact us about drafting your will or reviewing an older will. As soon as you have amassed assets, it’s necessary to write directions as to where those assets will go when you pass away. Though it’s something we don’t always like to think about, tomorrow is never guaranteed so it’s important to have all of your financial matters in order even when you’re young, and we can certainly help.
For more information about wills, talk to one of our Langley notary public staff.