Handwritten (holograph) wills
You can create a valid will if you write the entire document in your own handwriting, date it, and sign it. Do not put any additional gifts or instructions below your signature. Handwritten wills do not require witnessing.
In Ontario, a typewritten will must be:
- Signed by the testator
- Witnessed by two witnesses who
- were present when the testator signed; and,
- Are not a beneficiary, or the spouse of a beneficiary.
It is good practice to have the testator and the witnesses initial each page of the will, and to identify the name, address and occupation of both witnesses.
Affidavits of execution
When it comes time to probate the will, an affidavit of execution is required.
This affidavit should be sworn by one of the witnesses, and it should be sworn at the time the will is signed by the testator – otherwise, someone has to try to track down the witnesses years after the fact and hope that they remember the event.
When the affidavit of execution is signed, the original will should be stamped on the back of the last page and identified as an exhibit to the affidavit of execution.
While a will can be valid without an affidavit of execution, a will prepared without an affidavit of execution is not ready for probate.
Many will preparation services (including online services and will kits) and some lawyers prepare wills without affidavits of execution – in our view, this defeats one of the key principles of estate planning, as the will is not ready for efficient, effective probate. An expensive extra steps of chasing a witness, or an alternate to an affidavit, must be completed before the will can be probated.