The Dangers of Wills Kits

By Jenna M. Chamberlain, Student-at-Law & Maya Gordon, Partner

A will is a legal document in which an individual gives instructions on how to distribute their property after their death. It is important for anyone with property to have a will, and to ensure your will is drafted properly. There are a number of “will kits” available for purchase with forms to create your own will at home. These might be cheaper and faster than having a lawyer draft a will, but there are a number of risks associated with these will kits.

1. Will kits do not consider individual circumstances.

Just like “one size fits all” jeans, will kits do not actually “fit” anyone. Every person has different assets, circumstances, and intentions. A lawyer will tailor a will to the individual, taking into consideration the particular complexities of their situation and their particular needs. Lawyers are trained to ensure a will covers a variety of potential scenarios, including the risks and consequences of certain provisions of a will. You might be fine with wearing uncomfortable, ill-fitting jeans, but a will should fit you and your situation perfectly.

2. If done incorrectly, a will could be invalid.

The validity of a will depends on the laws of your province, and the law is constantly changing and evolving. Will kits might not comply with the current requirements. If a will is not executed properly, it could be invalid. Validating a will usually requires the approval of the Court. If the will cannot be validated, your estate will be distributed according to the Alberta Wills and Succession Act, SA 2010, c W-12., (or the laws of your province) which could be very different than you intended. There is also a risk of not properly conveying your instructions. If a will is vague or unclear, it must be interpreted by the Court. Their interpretation might lead to different outcomes than intended. Overall, to ensure your instructions are followed and to protect your survivors, it is important to have a will that is valid and clearly written.

3. Will kits might save costs upfront, but they could create costs later.

As mentioned, validating or clarifying a will would likely require the involvement of the Court. Anytime a court appearance is required it creates costs, takes time, and causes stress. This burden will fall on your survivors, and you will not be around to clarify your instructions. Having a lawyer properly draft a will makes it easier and cheaper for any survivors to distribute your estate. Spending the time and money to have a lawyer draft a will is likely to be cost effective overall.

Distributing property to loved ones and survivors is a very personal process. However, this process typically happens after a person has passed on, and cannot ensure their will is followed as intended. The best practice is to have a will that reflects your particular intentions and circumstances, and is in compliance with the law. A custom will drafted by a lawyer avoids the risks associated with will kits.

This post is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this post to be outdated.