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Types of Wills in Alberta

Wills fall under provincial legislation. As a Calgary will lawyer, MERGEN LAW can advise on and assist with Alberta wills. We can also help you determine if a will made in another province meets Alberta's requirements. If you are in another province and looking for information on wills, consult a lawyer in your province to ensure you get the right information.

There are three types of wills commonly used in Alberta:

  • Formal wills
  • Holographic wills
  • Soldiers' wills.

Formal or Conventional Wills

These wills are written up by your will lawyer. You must sign your will, or, if you are not able to sign it, be present when a person signs it on your behalf. You must also be mentally competent and over the age of 18.

The placement of your signature on the will is important. If your will is contested, the courts want to know that your signature applies to everything in the will. Therefore, wills should be signed at the end rather than at the beginning or in the middle. If you place your signature elsewhere on the document, the signature will not apply to anything written below the signature.

Formal wills are required to have two witnesses who have signed the will in your presence. These people cannot be beneficiaries and must be someone other than your legal spouse.

Holograph Wills

These informal wills are not made by your will lawyer and do not have to be witnessed. They are written by hand and signed by the person making the will. Holograph wills are not recognized in every province so check with your will lawyer before relying on this type of will.

Holograph wills are valid, legal documents in Alberta if they clearly show the intention to leave gifts after death, but we do not recommend using them. They are often incomplete and difficult to enforce if they are disputed. Without the help of an experienced will lawyer, people may be unable to consider their estates comprehensively and to get their intentions across in an easily understandable manner. Having this type of last will and testament is often the same as having no will at all.

Soldiers' Wills

If you are in the Canadian Armed Forces and on active duty or are a mariner, you can write your own valid will and sign it or have someone sign it for you in your presence. These wills do not need to be witnessed and they remain valid even after the person is no longer in the service. If you are not on active duty, you should see your will lawyer to have a formal will drawn up.


Living Wills (Personal Directives)

Living wills give your loved instructions about how you want to be cared for in a medical situation if you cannot communicate or make decisions for yourself. Living wills allow you to appoint someone who will make the decisions for you. Living wills are binding in Alberta and many other provinces. They are not, however, legally binding in all provinces so please check with your will lawyer.

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