Sun shining
A silver pen signs the signature section of a Will.

Signing Wills in Ontario: What You Should Know

Although most of us are determined to live forever, it’s probably unlikely (unless you know something we don’t, in which case please share). 

………waiting……... 

No? Alright well, let’s talk about Wills then. It’s a topic that often gets postponed or even completely ignored, for obvious reasons, but you can't just hit the ‘go away’ button on this one. You could make this post go away, but don't - because having a legally valid Will that is done properly is important! It helps you lay down ‘who gets what’ after you go and saves your family a lot of fighting over who gets your very strange (and kind of gross) dried millipede collection. 

That’s why, in this post, we reel out the legal ‘insider scoop’ on the signing of legally valid Wills, according to Ontario Estate Laws.

Here are the basics about signing a will in Ontario:

Why do I need a Will?

Okay. Here’s where we sermonize the very cliché truth that “nothing is certain but death and taxes.” But seriously, you need a legally valid Will to make sure that the distribution of your property, among other things, is carried out according to your wishes after you’re gone. And, just as death and taxes apply to everyone regardless of financial status, a valid Will is just as important whether you’re rich or poor and regardless of marital status.  

You may think “who cares? I’m dead anyways,” and yes, Ontario Estate Laws do cater to the eventuality of you dying without a Will, but then the administration of your estate lies in the hands of the government, not you. That means all you’ve worked hard for your whole life may get into the hands of the people who might not exactly be your fave loved ones! Ughh.   

Not to mention, the odds of you actually ‘RIP-ing’ will be mortifyingly low in the face of your family contesting your Will in Ontario.  

How do I create my Will?

With Wills, as with all legal matters, you want to begin by speaking with an expert. A Wills and Estates lawyer who is well-schooled in Ontario Estate Law can give you advice about what should be included in your Will, have it drafted, and help you get it signed properly. 

Not sure where to look for a lawyer? Lawggle makes finding all types of legal professionals easy as pie..er, I mean jam. With Lawggle, you can find a legal professional in your neighborhood within minutes. We keep affordable and approachable Wills and Estates lawyers on hand to save you from legal landmines and pitfalls, and also from embarrassing Google searches like “When a spouse dies, who gets the house?”

How do I sign my Will?

In writing. But first, make sure that it contains all your wishes, and nothing has been left out. Then, your will must be signed according to certain legal procedures in Ontario. If a Willis not properly signed, it may be deemed void, so this is important and another good reason to consult a lawyer. 

In Ontario, the person who made the Will, the testator (that's you), must sign it in the presence of two witnesses. Likewise, the witnesses must sign the Will in the presence of the testator and each other. Your legal professional can help you arrange the signing of your Will and an affidavit of execution.

Who can witness a Will in Ontario?

Anyone can witness the signing of a Will in Ontario, and by anyone, we mean anyone capable of signing a document under Ontario Estate Laws. So really, we mean, any person above the age of 18, who is of sound mind and is not blind. Oh yea, and they also should not be the executor, a beneficiary or the spouse of a beneficiary. So, almost anyone..

What is an Affidavit of Execution?

An affidavit of execution is a legal document that is signed under oath (in front of a notary public) by one of your witnesses to confirm your Will was legally signed and valid.  An affidavit of execution is optional in Ontario, but it is recommended and common practice since it is a much more convenient way to prove the legal signing of your Will. The alternative involves a lot more paperwork if your witnesses are unlocatable when the legal signing of your Will must be proven.

If there is no affidavit of execution and neither of your witnesses can be found when the time comes, your executor must not only prove the witnesses were unlocatable, but they must also find a witness capable of verifying that your signature is not a fake.

As you can see, it is much easier to include an affidavit of execution with your Will. Simply contact a notary public in your area (yes, we have those too!).

Can I sign my Will digitally?

No. According to section 31 of the Ontario Electronic Commerce Act, digital signatures are not permitted for Wills, trusts, or powers of attorney. However, changes due to Covid-19 now allow the signing of Wills to be witnessed virtually. So, if you're in Ontario, no excuses! If you're in BC, however, Wills must still be witnessed in person.

Will-ing to seek assistance?

Our lawyers can help you navigate all the technical mumbo jumbo that comes with figuring out where you stand when you’re about to sign those dotted lines under Ontario Estate Laws.

Or, contact us directly. Your request won’t fall into the inbox abyss never to be seen again. We’ll get back to you right away and help put you in control of your legacy by connecting you to the right legal professional. We’ll help you finally get that will you’ve been postponing done and legally signed.


Need help choosing the right lawyer? Check out our post How to Find the Best Lawyer (For You).
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Lawggle Admin

Lawggle Admin is a regular contributor to Lawggle.