It is important to have a Will properly written and executed before you die. If you do not have a Will in place and you have children, it will be up to a member of your family to apply to the Court to obtain guardianship of them. This is a costly and not always successful process. And in the event there is no family member, your children will become foster children and will be under the control of the Government. Furthermore, if there is no one to distribute your estate, the Public Trustee of the Government of Alberta will be appointed to do so and they will follow a formula of distribution pursuant to the Wills and Succession Act. This formula may be the farthest from your wishes possible. Above all, if no Will is in place, the process of appointing guardianship of your children and of distributing your estate becomes a much more difficult and expensive process.
A Will must be properly executed. The individuals who you name to inherit anything from your estate cannot be witnesses to your Will. Nor can their spouses. People or entities who you name to inherit from your estate are called beneficiaries. If a beneficiary were to witness a Will, they would lose all entitlement they have to the inheritance. Even if the spouse of a beneficiary witnesses a Will, this is sufficient for the beneficiary to lose that entitlement. Furthermore, when the Will is signed, it must be signed in front of the witnesses all at the same time and the witnesses must execute further documents before a Commissioner for Oaths or Notary Public at the same time. Quite simply, the signing of a Will is not a two step process – all parties – the individual signing the Will, the witnesses to the Will and the Commissioner for Oaths/Notary Public must be present for the signing.