Ridout Barron

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Why are formal wills preferable to holographic wills?

Although drafting a holographic (handwritten) will seems the more cost-effective way to handle estate planning in Alberta, it might be exactly the opposite. The costs of having these wills interpreted by lawyers and the courts are typically significantly higher than the costs of formally drafted wills from the onset. This also applies to the preprinted will kits that are available online.

A holographic will is one that is written by hand in a do-it-yourself manner. If it contains the signature of the testator, it is allowed under Alberta laws. However, if such a will is typed and signed by the testator, the court will not regard it as a legal document. However, a holographic will needs no witness signatures.

Formal wills are in the form of typed documents, whether drafted by lawyers or kits obtained online. Wills prepared for testators who are minors or mentally incapable will not be legal. The will must be dated and bear the signature of the testator along with the signatures of two witnesses. The witnesses' signatures certify that the testator had the intent and mental capacity to make a will, and they must sign as witnesses in the presence of the testator. To be a legal witness, the person must not be a minor, and cannot be the testator's spouse or a beneficiary of the will.

Before drafting a holographic will, it might be a good idea to discuss the matter with a lawyer who is experienced in drafting wills and other estate planning documents. An Alberta lawyer can make sure that the will meets legal requirements along with the unique needs and wishes of the client. This will go a long ways toward ensuring that the testator's assets will be distributed according to his or her wishes. Also, a lawyer who is familiar with the client can then assist with occasional reviews and modifications to ensure that estate planning documents remain current.

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Ridout Barron

802 13th Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2R 0L2
Phone: 587-315-8454
Fax: 403-271-8016
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