Types of Wills

Region: Ontario Answer # 140

There are two main types of Wills, attested Wills and holograph Wills. Both types of Wills perform the same function by allowing you to name people who will receive your property when you die, and name a personal representative to make sure that your wishes are carried out. The main difference between the two types of Wills is how they are written, and what things have to be done to make them legal.

Attested Wills

An attested Will is the most common type of Will. It is sometimes also referred to as a ‘formal’ Will. “Attested” means that it is signed by witnesses. Every Will that is not completely handwritten by the person making the Will must be “attested” to be valid. Most attested Wills are typed or prepared on a computer, or are pre-printed “fill-in-the-blank” forms. An attested Will must be signed by the person making the Will in front of two witnesses, and the witnesses must also sign their names at the bottom of the Will. You and the two witnesses should also write your initials on each page of the Will. After signing the Will, the witnesses sign a written statement called an affidavit. In this statement, the witnesses must swear that they saw you sign the Will, and that they have no reason to believe that you were not capable of making the Will.

In Ontario, Wills and Powers of Attorney can be witnessed virtually, meaning video technology can be used for witnessing signatures, as long as one of the people witnessing is a licensed Ontario lawyer or paralegal.

It is important to choose witnesses who are not receiving a gift in the Will. They should also not be spouses of anyone receiving a gift in your Will. If they are, they may have problems receiving their gifts.

Holograph Wills

A holograph Will is less formal than an attested Will. The main requirements of a holograph Will are that it must be entirely handwritten by the person making the Will, and it must be signed and dated. Unlike an attested Will, it does not require witnesses or affidavits, and can be prepared personally by the person making the Will. Although this appears to be the simplest option for preparing a Will, it is not a good idea for most people. These Wills may not be valid if they are unclear or missing important legal details.

For more information about Wills, visit 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. If you want to make sure your Will is legal and clearly expresses your wishes, you should consult a lawyer.


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