Do you need a lawyer to make your own Will in BC?


No, but…

No, but doing it yourself could cost you more money in the long term.

Wait, what?

A Wills kit might cost you $40 to buy; a Will made by a BC Notary or lawyer could cost you anywhere from $350 to $2,000, depending on what you need drafted.

So why would a home-made Will cost you more?

Challenges with DIY Wills Kits

There are several challenges with a do-it-yourself Wills kit.

Firstly, you need to make sure you are getting a kit that complies with the law in British Columbia. 

There are very strict laws about the legal formalities that a Will must have in order to qualify as a Will.  If you buy a form online that was intended for a US client base, you might be using a form that doesn’t comply with the legal requirements for a Will in BC. 

If you use a form that doesn’t comply with the legal requirements for a Will in BC, it’s possible that your estate might be “intestate” – meaning it has no Will to follow.  Someone would have to take the “Will” you made, present it to court, and ask a judge to determine whether or not it could be used as your Will.  It’s not a given that just because you call a document a “Will” that it actually IS a Will.

The process to get a judge to determine whether or not your document should be accepted as your last Will can be very expensive, and your estate will have to pay those additional legal costs.

Next, you need to make sure you are following the instructions in the do-it-yourself Wills kit properly.  Not everyone is great at following instructions; if your eyes glaze over before you have read through to the end of the first page in the Wills kit, then you should not make your own Will yourself.

If you complete the do-it-yourself Will kit incorrectly, then your executor will likely have to go to court, and have a judge make a determination as to how to fix your mistake. That will be expensive.

Then you need to make sure you are signing the Will properly.  Wills need to be witnessed (unless you are on active duty in the Canadian Forces). If you do not sign the Will properly, you have not met the standards for legal requirements of a BC Will. As with the other problems, your executor will have to go to court and seek a judge’s instructions as to how to deal with this document.

Understanding the Law

Another important issue is that Wills law is very complex.  There are things like undue influence, suspicious circumstances, or testamentary capacity which need to be considered, but which are rarely ever covered off in a Wills kit.

Undue Influence and other Factors

Was someone twisting your arm into making the terms of the Will in this way? Were you making this Will freely and voluntarily? Did you understand the legal and moral obligations you have to other people, and the claims those people might have against you, or your estate?

So why use a BC Notary or Lawyer?

The benefit of having a BC Notary or lawyer draft your Will for you is that they have taken quite a bit of training in order to make sure all of these requirements have been met.

The money you spend on a good BC Notary or lawyer could save you thousands (or even tens of thousands) on a court application after you have died.

And what happens if a BC Notary or lawyer makes a mistake in your Will? If it is caught before you die, and you can make a new Will, they will likely fix that for you right away.  If the mistake is not caught before you die, then they have liability insurance to deal with professional mistakes.

Contact us; we would be happy to help you make a great Will.

			October 30, 2018 1:30 pm 
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