Am I allowed to make my own Will?
Yes, of course. Provided you follow the legal requirements for making a proper Will.
It's important to follow the legal requirements for your jurisdiction - for example, if you are making a Will for your BC assets, you need to follow the law for BC. If you want to make a Will for your assets in Arizona, or some other place, then you should contact a lawyer or notary in that jurisdiction to find out what the law says for that jurisdiction, because each place has its own rules, and they are not necessarily the same.
What are the legal requirements for a Will?
In BC, the Wills, Estates and Succession Act ("WESA") sets out how to make a Will.
Here are some of the requirements for making a Will from WESA:
Who can make a will
36 (1) A person who is 16 years of age or older and who is mentally capable of doing so may make a will.
(2) A will made by a person under 16 years of age is not valid.
How to make a valid will
37 (1) To be valid, a will must be
(a) in writing,
(b) signed at its end by the will-maker, or the signature at the end must be acknowledged by the will-maker as his or hers, in the presence of 2 or more witnesses present at the same time, and
(c) signed by 2 or more of the witnesses in the presence of the will-maker.
(2) A will that does not comply with subsection (1) is invalid unless
(a) the court orders it to be effective as a will under section 58 [court order curing deficiencies],
(b) it is a will recognized as valid under section 80 [validity of wills made in accordance with other laws], or
(c) it is valid under another provision of this Act.
Where do I start?
You can buy a do-it-yourself Wills kits from most bookstores, or even certain drugstores or office supply stores.
Read through the kit carefully. It's really important for you to be honest with yourself - if you do not understand the instructions in the Will kit, do NOT continue. Wills are really important documents; they deal with your entire estate, and mistakes can be incredibly costly.
Do NOT take a Will made for someone else and copy that. Wills made by lawyers and BC Notaries are specially tailored to each client. They are not general templates. If you copy a Will made for someone else, you will likely miss important clauses that apply to you (but didn't apply to the person you copied from).
What else do I need to think about?
- are there any suspicious circumstances surrounding this Will that could bring its validity into question?
- is there any undue influence at play?
- do you have any problems with mental capacity, or delusions that affect your decisions around your estate?
- are you cutting anyone out of your Will?
If any of these situations exist for you, then you should really not do your own Will yourself. Hire a professional to help you.
What if I can't figure it out?
Then you can hire us. We're here to help.
Would you wire your own house yourself for electricity, or install all of your own plumbing? Would you operate on yourself, or come up with a medical care plan all by yourself?
Don't be embarrassed to ask for help. It's a complicated area of law which has gotten a lot more formal over the past 10 years.
We'd be pleased to help - just call us.