Will lawyers help you write a legally enforceable document that ensures your last wishes are executed, your assets are passed on to the intended beneficiaries, and the needs of dependents are looked after.
There are different ways of doing this and many things to consider beforehand. It is a serious responsibility as your last will and testament is at the heart of your estate plan. Challenges and disputes amongst family members regarding wills are relatively common.
The will experts at Vest Estate Lawyers, serving western Canada, are experienced at working closely with families to prepare wills that protect loved ones and accurately reflect your goals.
A will is often where people start with their estate plan. This is a legal document that can be used to convey key wishes about what happens to your property and dependent children after your death.
Essentially, your will can achieve three major goals:
- Designate a personal representative (executor/administrator) who will administer your estate and carry out the wishes you express in your will
- Direct how your assets are distributed after your death
- Name a guardian if you have minor children at the time of your death
Your personal representative is responsible for locating assets, paying any outstanding debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.
Without a will, your property will be transferred according to Alberta’s Wills and Succession Act after your death. The courts may be required to intervene and this can create unnecessary confusion and stress for loved ones.
What are the different types of wills recognized in Alberta?
There are two main types of wills to consider in Alberta, each with its own legal requirements to make them valid:
- A formal will – typewritten and signed and witnessed by at least two people who must also sign the will in your presence (cannot be beneficiaries or their spouses)
- A holographic will – a completely handwritten will, signed and dated by you but with no witnesses’ present
You may also have heard of “notarial wills” but please note that these are not valid in Alberta.
Most people prefer to create a formal will in the presence of will lawyers so that the wording of the document is clear and unambiguous and the correct procedure is followed.
Generally speaking, formal wills are less open to legal challenge than holographic wills.