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Can you prepare your own Will?

Region: Ontario Answer # 146

Your Will is a formal document that has to follow certain rules to be legal. Even though you may think that you can easily prepare your own Will, it will often be missing certain technical legal requirements. Without all the legal requirements, you will not have a legal Will, and without a legal Will, it could become expensive and time-consuming for your family to sort out your personal affairs when you die.

New rules for previously ‘invalid’ Wills

Bill 245 Accelerating Access to Justice Act, 2021 came into effect January 1, 2022, making a number of changes to the Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA).

One important change is that previously, if a Will was not perfectly executed and did not follow every single rule, it was considered “technically invalid’. As of January 1, 2022, courts can deem a Will that is ‘technically invalid’ as legal. For example, courts can declare a Will that was only signed by one witness instead of two legal. This is known as “substantial compliance”.

More info

More information on how to make a legal Will can be found in 141 Formal requirements of a Will. Additional information can also be found on the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General website.

Getting the legal help you need

Wills are extremely important documents and relatively inexpensive to have prepared professionally. Although it is possible to prepare your own Will without the assistance of a lawyer, it is important to seek at least some legal advice to ensure your Will is complete and legally binding. There are also certain groups of people who should always seek legal advice when making a Will. Legal advice is critical if you are about to be married or separated, if you have a large estate, if you have assets in other countries, if you have a mental disease, or if you are very elderly.

If you want to make sure your Will is legal and clearly expresses your wishes, you should consult a lawyer.



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