What Is a Testator?

Testator Meaning and Testator Role

Anna Dunaeva DLegal Anna Dunaeva August 22, 2022
DLegal Law Office - family

Testator Meaning

A testator is someone who has created a valid will or who has died leaving a valid will behind. The term testator derives from the Latin word meaning “be witnessed” or “who bears witness.”

However, a testator is just one of several common roles that must be filled while executing an individual’s last will and testament. Aside from the testator, these roles include:

  1. An executor, who carries out the instructions left behind in the testator’s will
  2. Beneficiaries are the individuals or legal entities that will receive the assets from your estate upon your death
  3. Witnesses, depending on the type of will in question.

Although each role is vital in creating and executing a valid will, none more so than the testator. After all, it is their will, and it cannot exist without the testator’s wishes.

Testatrix Meaning vs. Testator Meaning

The feminine form of the noun testator is a testatrix — a female testator — although this is a somewhat outdated term. For clarity, we will use testator as a gender-neutral term throughout as it is a common practice these days.

What Must a Testator Do To Ensure a Valid Will?

A testator’s role in creating a will is to provide all the necessary information to the court and their family members about what they would like to have done once they are deceased. A will exists to inform people of a testator’s final wishes, and a thorough will can help ensure that there are no conflicts once they have passed on.

There are certain things a testator can do to demonstrate their intent and mitigate conflicts between family members. These include the following:

  1. Ensure that you know who can manage and inherit your property. No one can lawfully access your bank accounts or manage your property without your permission. You need to leave detailed accounts of who is named as a beneficiary of your assets. Consider things like insurance and pension plans, bank accounts, RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSAs, and other registered investments.
  2. Consider your digital assets. In today’s digital age, things like online banking and social media accounts should also be considered in the event of your passing. Testators should consider all aspects of their digital footprint in their final will and testament.

How Testators Can Mitigate Conflicts

Without a thorough will upon a testator’s death, friends and family members can become confused about the testator’s true intent. This neglect can create conflicts and even result in the will being contested.

There are several things that a testator can do to mitigate conflicts and ensure their will is executed as intended. The best practice is to discuss your intentions with your legal team and share your estate planning intentions and wishes with your loved ones. Leave as many details as possible to avoid misunderstanding.

What Does It Mean to Be Legally Competent or Of Sound Mind?

Although you might have a general idea of the requirements, this concept can be challenging for a layperson to define in legal terms.

The legal definition of a sound mind is that the testator is aware of three specific things: their property, their beneficiaries, and the consequences of their bequests. In short, a sound mind is the mental capacity necessary to create a functional will.

In the event of the testator’s death, where they were not found to have the mental capacity necessary to demonstrate a sound mind during the creation of their will, the will can be contested. Several elements go into contesting a will, and we have covered what constitutes sufficient grounds for contesting a will in Alberta here.

What Makes a Will Valid In Calgary?

Having a properly drafted will in Calgary ensures that your property and estate are managed as you intended. Estate law in Calgary can be complex, and it is vital to refer to a qualified attorney to review your will and ensure that it is valid.

The bare minimum for a valid will in Calgary requires that it be written as a physical document. The testator must be over the legal age of majority in the province. Finally, the testator must be of sound mind at the time of creation.

On Holographic Wills

A holographic will is a will that is entirely handwritten by the testator, as opposed to a typed will. Although the legality of the holographic will varies from province to province, they are legal in Alberta.

A holographic will must at the very least be entirely handwritten and signed by the testator and must demonstrate a deliberate intention to distribute their property upon their death.

What If There Is No Last Will and Testament?

The rules surrounding wills in Calgary are highly rigid. If you die without a will, the court will appoint someone to represent you as the executor of your estate. This person is known as a personal representative.

Typically, your property will go to your closest living relatives. However, if a testator dies without living relatives, their property might eventually become the property of the Crown.

It is imperative to create a will to avoid issues upon your passing. For example, a will can ensure that minor children are taken care of properly, with a legal guardian you have deemed an appropriate caregiver. You can also leave explicit instructions as to who is not to become a legal guardian or who cannot receive any property from your estate.

Choosing A Lawyer Who Specialises in Estate Planning in Calgary

We appreciate how challenging and sensitive this subject matter is. No one wants to think about their passing. However, finding a lawyer you trust will represent you properly is essential.

If you are interested in hiring an estate planning lawyer to protect your legal rights upon your passing, please reach out to our team at DLegal. We are ranked as one of Calgary’s top estate planning lawyers. We will be happy to consult with you regarding your legacy.

Please note that this is simply a general overview of the subject and does not constitute legal advice. Consult a lawyer for formal advice about your specific situation.


The DLegal team is here to support. We will do our best to assist or connect you with those who can help.

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