Do-It-Yourself Wills

Frequently, people look for ways to save money when planning their estate but end up creating more costly problems down the road. Putting assets into joint ownership to avoid probate fees is one example. Another is a do-it-yourself will.

While it’s possible in some provinces to have handwritten or holographic wills, it’s not recommended. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. There is often too much room for interpretation in the wording of such homemade wills.
  2. Problems come up when people miss things or put in clauses that don’t mean what they intended.

Plan your estate with a professional and have a lawyer who specializes in estate planning draft your will and other documents. Sure, it can cost you more today, but that’s a small price to pay for family harmony down the road. A properly drawn up will may cost more than a do-it-yourself will kit; however, that cost is significantly less than the cost of settling a contested will.

When to Avoid On-line Wills and Will Kits

While experts generally recommend that you not use a do-it-yourself will, there are circumstances where it is particularly ill-advised. Specifically, avoid using an online will or will kit if you:

  • Have a blended family
  • Have children from prior relationships
  • Own a business
  • Own property in other countries
  • Wish to disinherit a spouse or child
  • Have any other circumstances that will complicate your estate plan

Online wills and will kits simply can't cope with all the complexities of these circumstances. Have your wills professionally prepared by an experienced estate lawyer. The extra cost will be worth it to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

When to Use On-line Wills and Will Kits

The preceding discussion is not to imply that online wills and will kits are of no benefit. They can be very useful as planning tools. If you go through the process of drafting a will, you’ll have time to consider how you want your estate to be distributed and whom you trust to handle your affairs. Thus, you’ll be able to express your needs clearly to your lawyer, which should help to ensure that your will is an accurate reflection of your wishes.

If You Live in Quebec

Most will kits are not adapted for use in Quebec. The kits often state this, but not always. Because Quebec follows the legal civil code and not common law (like rest of Canada) a will not specifically set up for Quebec residents has a higher probability of being void. Internet offers to complete your “Made in Quebec” will online are prone to the same risks as noted above for the rest of Canada.