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Porter Ramsay Blog

Wills and estates: The legalities of holographic wills in B.C.

A holographic will is one that a person writes entirely in his or her own handwriting and not signed by any witnesses. Many people prefer doing things the old school way, including the writing of wills, but when it comes to wills and estates laws, many provinces won’t accept such documents. British Columbia is one of them, with a few stipulations. 

The B.C. government has made some changes in its laws to allow for the curing of deficiencies in wills that are basically invalid. In other words, if a court deems a will invalid and yet can see the person’s testamentary intentions, the court may still approve the will. Those handwriting their own wills should keep in mind the scope of legalities to which a will must adhere. Since most people writing them have little to no legal knowledge, these kinds of wills may have errors or omit things necessary in wills. Such mistakes could compromise a person’s last wishes.

Some of the mistakes contained in a holographic will include not naming an executor, not disposing of all assets, not naming guardians, if necessary, and writing things in an unclear fashion. An ambiguous will makes it difficult to carry out the testator’s wishes. Things should be spelled out clearly.

Wills aren’t always cut and dried. There are documents that may be appropriate to include like amendments or codicils, which very few people understand. This is where the help of a British Columbia lawyer who is experienced in the legalities of wills and estates would be invaluable. A lawyer would make sure all documents pertaining to estate planning adhere to the laws of British Columbia. 

Source: findlaw.ca, “What’s a holographic will?“, Accessed on Oct. 7, 2017