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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Videotaped wills

I've been asked this question a few times in the last few years. Back when I first started doing Wills (more than 20 years ago - time sure flies!) nobody ever asked me if they could videotape their Wills. It makes sense, given how technology is more and more an integral part of our lives, that this would be on the legal horizon.

I can also see how the idea has gained appeal, based on fictional stories such as "The Testament", and "The Ultimate Gift" which certainly made excellent use of the idea of a videotaped Will.

Right now, though, you cannot make a legally binding Will in Alberta unless it is written down. It doesn't really matter what you write it on. I once probated a Will that had been handwritten by a woman entirely on post-it notes.

The Wills Act of Alberta sets out requirements for a valid Will. In addition to the Will having to be in writing, it must also be signed by the testator (the person whose Will it is) in front of two witnesses, who then sign in front of each other and in front of the testator. If the Will is completely in the testator's handwriting (known as a holograph Will), no witnesses are required. Think about what "completely in your handwriting" means if you are planning to use a Will Kit or download a form to use. You must follow the formal rules for Wills if you are not using 100% your own handwriting.

There will eventually be changes to the rules about what makes a valid Will in Alberta, but right now the rules say that Wills must be written down.

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