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What Are Ontario’s Holograph Will Requirements For Validity?

What Are Ontario’s Holograph Will Requirements for Validity?

When it comes to handwritten wills, are they considered valid in Ontario? Absolutely, as long as a handwritten will that is entirely written, dated, and signed by the testator. Such a will is called a “holograph will.”

Holograph wills are valid if they meet the requirements of the Wills Act. To be valid, a holograph will be entirely in the testator’s handwriting and it must be signed by the testator at the bottom after it is written. The date of the will does not need to be witnessed.  Changes made after signing are not valid.

Note that the Executor is responsible for paying all of your debts and distributing your assets according to your will.

Every single word in your will must also be written in your handwriting, and although the holographic will requires no witnesses, the testator must sign and date the holograph will (the person who handwrites and creates the will document).

Wills that are holographic are quite prevalent and have evolved in emergency situations, such as when a test subject is stranded and on the brink of death.

Here are the following non-witnessed holograph will requirements in Ontario for handwritten wills to be considered valid:

  • There must be proof that the testator really wrote the will, which can be demonstrated by witnesses, acquaintances, other handwritten papers that confirm identification, or other ways.
  • The testator must have possessed the intellectual capacity to create the will, however, there is a presumption that a testator had such competence until evidence to the contrary is given.
  • The testator must express their intent to distribute their estate.

Frequent mistakes in holograph wills include not naming an executor and not ensuring that all of the residue of the estate is distributed (in which case there is a partial intestacy).

Possible Scenarios of Dying without a Will in Ontario

Passing on without a will in Ontario means your estate will be distributed according to intestacy laws. The Succession Law Reform Act governs intestate succession, and it determines who will receive your estate if you die without a valid will.

Generally, your estate will first go to your spouse. If you have children with them, your spouse will receive the first $350,000 ($200,000 if they died before March 1, 2021). Afterward, the remainder will be split equally between your children and spouse.

If you don’t have a spouse, it will go to your next of kin. Your estate will be divided equally among your children. However, if any of your children have passed away, their children (your grandchildren) will receive the share owed to them.

If you don’t have any children, it will go to your parents. If you do not have a spouse, children, or grandchildren, your estate will be divided equally between your parents. If only one parent is alive, they will receive your entire estate.

If your parents are deceased, it will go to your siblings. If you don’t have any surviving siblings, it will go to other surviving immediate relatives. 

The intestacy rules can get quite complicated, so it’s always best to consult with an estate planning lawyer if you’re unsure about who will receive your estate.

Without a will, you can’t choose who gets your assets. You don’t choose your children’s guardians. Without a will, the court makes these judgments.

In addition, a probate can be a time-consuming and expensive process if you die without a will. Without a will, your estate must go through probate, which can delay asset distribution and cause hardship for loved ones.


Consult with an estate planning lawyer to ensure your wishes are followed out after you die. An expert lawyer can help you draft a legally enforceable will and divide your possessions as you choose.

Without a will, Ontario’s intestacy statutes will distribute your assets. This may go against your preferences and leave your loved ones unprotected.

It is important to have a will in place to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. Speak with an estate planning lawyer today to create a will that reflects your wishes. Contact us at Ontario Wills and let us help you secure your estate and make sure your loved ones are protected and provided for, even after your death.

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