In the digital age, many services have moved online, including legal services and their supporters. One online service that has gained popularity is creating your own will online. However, many Canadians are left wondering, "Are online wills legal in Canada?"
The answer is yes, but with some caveats. This blog post aims to shed light on the legality and validity of a Canadian will online. It also outlines the support you may receive from specialty services geared to simplify and streamline the process.
Understanding Online Wills and Their Limitations
An online will refers to a legal document prepared using an internet-based platform or software. These platforms guide users through a series of questions about their assets and beneficiaries, then generate a will based on their responses. The convenience and affordability of these platforms have made them an attractive option for many Canadians.
However, it's essential to understand that while creating an online will may seem straightforward, it must meet specific legal requirements to be valid in Canada. If these requirements aren't met, the will could be contested or deemed invalid, leading to potential legal complications. The provider of the legal templates should be able to maintain the accuracy of the provincial requirements and laws of the documents they offer. Do not reuse an old template from the past without it being updated to the rules and regulations of your resident province. Some online Will and estate providers like Canadian Legal Wills constantly update their templates by the latest provincial standards, so you know you are working with the most current regulations and observances of the provincial law.
Legal Requirements for a Canadian Will Online
For any formal will to be considered legal in Canada - whether drafted by a lawyer or created online - it must meet certain criteria:
The person making the will (the testator) must be at least 18 years old.
The testator must be mentally competent and understand the nature and effect of their actions.
The will must clearly outline how the testator's property should be distributed upon their death.
It must be signed by the testator and witnessed by two people who are not beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries.
Online platforms typically provide instructions on how to properly sign and witness your will after it’s been created.
The Legality of Online Wills in Canada
As per Canadian law, online wills are indeed legal as long as they meet all necessary requirements outlined above. However, each province has its own laws regarding estates and trusts which can slightly vary from one another.
Despite being legally recognized, there are some potential pitfalls with creating your own Canadian will online that you should consider:
Complexity: If your estate is complex – for example if you have multiple properties in different provinces or countries – an online platform may not adequately address all necessary considerations. We suggest that if you have more than property that you contact us for a consultation meeting.
Updates: Laws change over time and an outdated template might not comply with current legislation. As mentioned above, we only partner with those providers that work exclusively in regions where their documents have been updated automatically to reflect and comply with the latest provincial laws.
Personalization: Online platforms use standard templates that might not cater to unique circumstances or wishes. We help clients navigate through scenarios and complexities they may not have even considered, but we have seen before. Often those templates can be adjusted by the testator (client) to be more reflective of their wants and needs.
Legal Advice: When you create your own will without professional assistance, you miss out on valuable advice that could potentially save your estate from unnecessary taxes or disputes. We do have access to legal reviews of your documents when you reach your final draft and witness of the documents.
Seeking Professional Assistance
While creating a Canadian will online can offer convenience and cost savings, it's important to remember that our professional advice can provide invaluable peace of mind when dealing with such important matters. You may ask yourself, “Apart from a lawyer, who else should you consult and how would I know what to ask of them?”. We can help!
A lawyer is our initial thought when constructing a will. They can help ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes while minimizing potential tax liabilities and avoiding disputes among beneficiaries after your death. However, most clients don’t realize that even the most basic estate can involve ten to twenty different professionals once you pass away. It’s this consideration of estate and pre-estate coordination that lends itself to our services of practical advice and care.
Despite the importance of the lawyer, other professionals can also add valuable advice that can save the estate hundreds, thousands and even millions of dollars, if known about in advance of a testator’s death.
Plan My Estate can help you with those beginning steps to better prepare you for understanding of your estate, documentation of your estate and personal directives for health and financial power of attorney.
Our goal is to help you better navigate your estate, personal and family needs and leverage the efficiencies offered through online convenience and security. We deliver practical advice in support of you and your family, helping you navigate the permissible versus the prudent, in a very caring and thoughtful manner. Oftentimes clients need support informing themselves as to what questions should be asked of their professionals; we help with this also.
In conclusion, yes - creating a Canadian will online is indeed legal provided it meets all necessary criteria outlined by law. However due to potential complexities involved in the estate planning process it's always recommended to seek professional advice when drafting such important documents.
Remember that while an online platform might seem like an easy solution now; ensuring your loved ones are taken care of after you're gone is worth investing time into doing things right – even if this means seeking professional help! It’s easier than you might think. Contact us for a quick chat or online visit. Barb Mackay - Plan My Estate | Canadian Estate Planning Guide