What is A Holograph Will and is it Legal in Ontario?

December 21, 2016

Is a handwritten Will “legal” in Ontario?

Yes.  Such a will is called a “holograph will.”  If your will is completely written out in your own handwriting and you sign and date it, then it is a valid will in Ontario.

Your handwritten will should say who gets your property, and it should name someone as your estate trustee (executor).

The Executor is responsible for paying all your debts and ensuring that your property goes where you and your will say it should go.

It is very important that every word in your will be in your own handwriting.
You do not need witnesses for a holograph will.  The testator ( the person handwriting and creating the will document) must sign and date the holograph will.

Holographic wills are quite common. They originated in emergency situations, such as when a testator is trapped and near death – a miner for instance who is trapped underground and at risk of death.

Although a “normal” will (one created by a lawyer) must be signed by witnesses attesting to the validity of the testator’s signature and intent, holograph wills that have not been witnessed are treated equally to witnessed wills and need only to meet minimal requirements in order to be valid:

1. There must be evidence that the testator actually created the will, which can be proved through the use of  witnesses, friends, other   handwritten documents that verify identity or other methods;

2. The testator must have had the intellectual capacity to write the will, although there is a presumption that a testator had such capacity unless there is evidence to the contrary;

3. The testator must be expressing a wish to direct the distribution of his estate to beneficiaries.

If you have a modest estate, are on fixed income and own no property (home, cottage, camp) then the Legal Clinic may assist you in drafting and finalizing a will document.

If you own a home or camp, own shares or have significant assets, it is worth your cost to meet with a private bar lawyer and create the necessary documents to protect you and your beneficiaries.

Remember, failure to have a will, (die intestate) may result in the government getting whatever you have left.

For more information and assistance, contact the Legal Clinic at 461-3935, 1-800-465-2479 or ask Alex! at www.northshorelegal.ca