Your Will is a Legal Document
Your will must meet all the requirements of Alberta’s Wills and Succession Act to be valid. Three types of wills are valid under the Act:
- A formal will, which AB Wills makes easy to prepare, is the most common type
- A holograph will is completely in your own handwriting
- A military will can only be made by a member of the Canadian Armed Forces while on active duty
AB Wills guides you through the complexity of the Act and provides you with a ready-to-sign formal will. The final step is signing your will.
Signing Your Will
Your signature, as the person making the will, requires two witnesses to be valid. The witnesses do not need to know the contents of your will before they sign. Witnesses should be present to watch your sign your will. Each witness must then sign the will in the presence of both you and the other witness.
Sign at the Bottom!
Your signature, and those of the witnesses, should be at the bottom of the will. Anything written below the signatures may be ignored by the Court if the will is contested. According to the Act:
19(3) A testator is presumed not to have intended to give effect to
any writing that appears below the testator’s signature.
Witnesses Cannot be a Beneficiary
Do not let a beneficiary or your spouse sign as a witness your will, otherwise a gift made to that beneficiary will not be valid. Ask people who have no interest in your property to act as witnesses. The witnesses do not need to read your will. All they have to do is see you sign your name to the will, and then they sign the will in front of you.
Get an Affidavit of Execution
Your will must go through probate after you pass away. During probate, your executor must prove the validity of the will to the probate court. The most common proof is an Affidavit of Execution signed by one of the witnesses stating the the signing process was appropriate — you were aware of what you were signing and did so voluntarily. By signing the Affidavit of Execution right after witnessing your will, the proof required by the probate court will be readily available.
Your estate may incur significant costs and time delays if the Affidavit of Execution is not prepared when you sign your will. A witness — if one is still alive and mentally competent — will have to be located. If one is not available after an exhaustive search, your executor will have to locate someone else who was in the room at the time of signing and/or someone who can swear the signature on the will is yours.
Let your registry office help
Contact your local registry office. It can help you with the signing process by providing the necessary witnesses as well as the services of a Commissioner for Oaths, who can prepare and commission the Affidavit of Execution.