What You Need to Know About Wills in Calgary

A will helps ensure your estate is managed and distributed in accordance with your wishes

Anna Dunaeva DLegal Anna Dunaeva February 3, 2022
DLegal Law Office drafts wills at flat fees

What You Need to Know About Wills in Calgary

Will planning is part of our life decisions, it’s within each of our individual freedom to decide what happens to us, our assets, belongings, and finances. Through a will you can set out a variety of wishes, including transfers of personal and business assets and giving of gifts on death, or appointing a guardian for children. Without a will, you cannot control your estate on death. Therefore, having a properly drafted will in Calgary ensures you and your significant ones have control over life’s events.

Calgary Wills

Alberta government succession rules are very rigid. If you do not have a valid will, the court will appoint someone to manage your estate, and this may not be the person you would have chosen. Without a will, your estate would go only to your closest living relatives under the statutory rules of intestate succession. If you do not have a surviving spouse, child, parent, siblings, or next of kin, your property may become the property of the Crown. Suppose you fail to nominate guardians for minor children in your will. In that case, the court will appoint a guardian as they find appropriate.

A will helps ensure your estate is managed and distributed in accordance with your wishes, whether it is amongst family members, friends, or other beneficiaries. It helps ensure your minor children or any disabled significant ones are taken care of properly. A will in Calgary can also assign instructions for how you would like your children to be raised and financially supported. For example, creating a trust for the benefit of a minor, a disabled person, or a person who cannot properly manage finances, ensures their wealth is preserved for them. Just as well, you can instruct what you do not want to happen. For example, you can explicitly instruct who is not to become a guardian of your children, nor receive any part of your estate.

Frequently asked Questions about Wills in Calgary

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that states your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and your preferences for who should take over as guardian for your minor children in the event of your death.

Why Do I Need a Will?

When you leave a valid will in Alberta, this means that your wishes will be respected. You decide who gets what and how much. You can utilize estate planning strategies and save your estate money on taxes. You protect your assets from people you don’t want them to go to. You choose guardians for your minor children and instruct how much support they should receive. When your heirs have your valid Will in Calgary, the management and distribution of your estate will occur faster and cost them less. Further, properly drafted Will reduces risks of family conflicts.

How to Draft Wills in Calgary?

Most people prefer to have wills drafted by a wills lawyer, as they want to avoid errors and contradictions, to preserve family harmony, and to avoid costs and delays in distributing the estate. Omissions and inaccuracies in a will can result in litigation and destroy family relationships.

A lawyer understands the intricacies of a legally enforceable will and estate plan regardless of the size of your estate or which stage of life you may be in. An experienced wills lawyer helps you make informed decisions and guides you through the process, so you can preserve your wealth and family harmony, and protect your loved ones.

What If I Die Without a Will?

If you die intestate, this means that you do not leave a legally binding document to confirm your wishes in regard to care of your children, management, and distribution of your estate after your death. As a result, the distribution of your assets and care of your children will be governed by statute and court, and your wishes may not be respected. Failure to prepare a Will in Calgary may also cause family battles leading to estate litigation. Further, your heirs will need to spend additional time, money, and energy to settle your affairs.

After you sign the court application, you must submit it to the Surrogate Division of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, in the judicial district where the deceased resided at the time of death. Depending on the circumstances, you can file it electronically or in person. At DLegal, we are committed to filing the applications within 1-3 business days of signing.

What Makes Wills Valid in Calgary?

At the very least, your Will must be in writing as a physical document, and you must be over the age of majority in your province and of sound mind. If your Will is typed (also known as a formal will), you must date, sign it at the very end, with two witnesses present. Your witnesses cannot be a named executor or their spouse and cannot be a named beneficiary or their spouse.

What If I Get Married After I Draft a Will?

Marriage does not make an existing Will invalid. However, your Will may be challenged on death if you fail to leave adequate support to your spouse. It is crucial that you review your estate plan with a lawyer focusing on wills in Calgary when you get married.

What If I Get Seperated After I Draft a Will?

The rule is that your ex common law is deemed to have predeceased you for the purposes of the Will, and all designations you made in your ex’s favor lose effect after the separation. However, the date of separation is not always clear. If your ex can prove that you still lived common law at the time of your death, the designations you made in your Will remain effective. For married couples, an old Will remains valid until you create a new Will after separation or formalize your divorce. It is crucial that you review your Will with a lawyer when you get separated. Read more on this here

What if I Get Divorced after I Draft a Will?

Your Will survives your divorce. However, if your old Will names your divorced spouse as an executor or beneficiary, such designations are of no force, and your ex is deemed to have predeceased you.

What if My Will Is Invalid in Whole or in Part?

Your entire estate or a portion of your estate will be distributed according to the intestacy provisions of the Wills and Succession Act (Alberta). The statutory rules of intestate succession direct that your estate may be divided among relatives, potentially including those whom you would not otherwise name as beneficiaries in your Will. If there are no relatives, your estate will be transferred to the Government.

Am I Required to Leave My Estate to Spouse or Children under the Will?

If you fail to provide for adequate support of your dependents, the court may order adequate provision be made out of your estate for their proper support and maintenance.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Make My Will Legal?

You can prepare a valid Will yourself, but you should leave clear wishes and observe the formalities to decrease the likelihood of successful challenges later. There are multiple software programs and websites available to assist you. Still, many people prefer to pay for a professionally drafted Will to be completely sure that their loved ones will be protected.

Further, many people still benefit from professional advice before they finalize their testamentary instructions. This is particularly important if you have minors, estranged children, a blended family, a late marriage, or foreign property.

Can I Create a Separate List of Personal Items Instead of Putting Them into the Will?

It is not always a good idea to put small personal items into your Will, because you will need to update your Will each time when the chattel is lost or you change your intentions. Instead, you can list your minor items in a Memorandum of Wishes and incorporate a reference to the Memorandum in the Will. Although the Memo of Wishes is not legally binding, you can revise it at any time, and you do not need to observe formalities applicable to Wills.

Where Should I Keep My Will in Calgary?

It is wise to provide your executor with a copy of your Will if you have one. A signed copy can be used to support your intentions in case the original Will is lost. However, having the original Will is crucial. Without it, there is no guarantee that your estate will be settled as you wanted.

Do I Need a Copy of the Will?

It is wise to provide your executor with a copy of your Will if you have one. A signed copy can be used to support your intentions in case the original Will is lost. However, having the original Will is crucial. Without it, there is no guarantee that your estate will be settled as you wanted.

Do I Need to Review or Update My Will?

It is advisable to review Wills every 2-3 years to make sure that they comply with your wishes and current law. Also, it helps ensure your estate will be administered in a cost-efficient manner.

You may need to revisit your Will with a lawyer when your life situation changes due to a new relationship, marriage, separation, divorce, the birth of a child, death of a beneficiary or executor, a significant purchase or inheritance when your kids become adults, and so on.

How to Change a Will?

No, you cannot simply cross out a line in your existing Will and replace it with a new one. You can write a new Will instead of the old one. Alternatively, you can make an amendment known as a Codicil. When you make a Codicil, you should observe the same rules which apply to drafting and signing of Wills. Lawyers can help with significant changes. However, with a Codicil, you can make minor changes such as changing the named beneficiary or the share percentage, adding a guardian for a child, and correcting any errors.

What Happens if My Will Is Contested?

All Wills in Calgary can be contested by someone who believes the Will is invalid or unlawful. If a Will is contested, the court will decide whether your wishes will be upheld.

How Much Does a Will Cost in Calgary?

DLegal offers flat rates, which make Wills in Calgary affordable. We are proud to be a part of your support system and promise to approach your needs with empathy and make your experience exceptional

Choosing a Lawyer Who Focuses on Calgary Wills

At DLegal, we believe in personal autonomy and we understand how important your wishes are. We offer wills and estates services for everyone, young or old, whether your estate is simple, or a comprehensive one, whether you have a business, a blended marriage, an estranged family member, a minor child, or a disability in your family.

Whether this is your first time drafting a will in Calgary, or your life circumstances have changed, we’ve compiled a convenient and affordable package consisting of a Will, Enduring Power of Attorney, and a Personal Directive. The three documents cover instances of both death and incapacity, so you can have peace of mind that you are fully protected on all fronts. Drafting all three documents at once also allows us to ensure they are consistent with one another, meanwhile offering you some cost savings in the process.

At DLegal, we keep clients at the center of our work and provide practical and honest advice on wills and estates in Calgary. Our clients say that our Wills questionnaires are among the most easy-to-use and informative and that they enjoy our wills and estate planning process.

When our clients refer their friends to us again and again, we can’t help but smile because we’ve done our job right. Send us an email or contact us by phone or through the website to discuss crafting your Calgary Wills.

How Calgary Wills Work

When you entrust a preparation of your will and estate planning to DLegal Law Office:

  1. We will provide you with an easy-to-use Questionnaire, which will guide you through all your options.
  2. We will meet to assess your wishes and needs, with the goal of deciding on the most appropriate estate planning approach for you, so we leave no stone unturned during our initial appointment. If you are not able to visit us in-person, we are happy to assist you online or over the phone.
  3. Once we have a good understanding of your requests, we will take approximately 5-10 business days to draft the documents in accordance with your wishes and instructions. If you need your documents within 72 hours, ask us about our rush fee; based on availability, we can assist with same-day delivery for urgent matters.
  4. You will then receive your draft for review. You can take some time to reflect and ensure you are happy with your decisions or identify any further changes that must be made.
  5. During our second meeting, we will discuss and sign the documents together, thus bringing your wishes into a legally enforceable effect.
  6. Once signed, you will take the original home with you, and we retain a copy. We will also advise you regarding storing and caring for your will.
  7. In the circumstance of life changes or when your children grow up, and changes must be made to your existing will, we will happily welcome you back and assist you with any and all necessary changes. As your wills lawyer in Calgary, we are here for you for life through every chapter to ensure you are always protected and your personal freedoms and wishes are met.

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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