last will & testament
What is a Will?
A Will is a document that sets out your wishes of who you wish to receive your assets after your die. You may revoke or modify your Will at any time.
Your Will appoints an “Executor”. This is the person you choose who will be responsible to follow the instructions as outlined in your Will
Your Will also appoints a guardian for any children under 18. You will would set out whether or not your estate will provide them with funds for room and board until they reach a certain age. Without a Will, your children may not have a guardian if the other parent is not living at the time of your death.
Do I need a lawyer to make one or can I do one myself?
In order for a Will to be valid in New Brunswick, the document must be witnessed by two individuals who are over 19 years old and are not named as beneficiaries to receive something in your Will.
A Holograph Will is a document written solely in your own handwriting and signed by you. However, Holograph Wills can be contested by someone challenging your handwriting or your mental capacity at the time it was written and it can be easier for your Holograph Will declared invalid than if it had been prepared and finalized with a lawyer. There are also many legal requirements for a Will and if the document is missing any of them, the document could be invalid.
Online will toolkits can also be tempting, but be careful as not all toolkits are compatible with New Brunswick law, which may result in the document being invalid in New Brunswick.
If the Will is deemed to be invalid, the situation will be the same as if you did not have a Will. Your next-of-kin (spouse or children) will have to apply to the Court to obtain a right to the your estate. A judge will then decide who will act as Administrator and how the assets of the estate will be divided.
The cost of a Will in New Brunswick typically ranges from $500.00 to $1,500.00 depending on the complexity of the estate issues. This is a drop in the bucket compared to the costs that will be required if you die without a Will or your Will is invalid. In either of those scenarios your next-of-kin will be forced to hire a lawyer and start court proceedings to distribute your estate. At a time when they are grieving your death the last thing they should have to worry about is starting a court process.