Understanding Ontario’s Will Law: A Comprehensive Guide.

Writing a will is a crucial step in estate planning, ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. In Ontario, like in many jurisdictions, there are specific laws governing the creation and execution of wills. Understanding these laws is essential for anyone considering drafting a will in the province. Let’s delve into the intricacies of Ontario’s will law.

What is a Will?

A will, also known as a last will and testament, is a legal document that outlines how a person’s assets and properties should be distributed after their death. It allows individuals to specify their wishes regarding their estate, appoint guardians for minor children, and designate an executor to administer their estate.

Requirements for a Valid Will in Ontario

In Ontario, for a will to be legally valid, it must meet certain requirements outlined in the Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA). These requirements include:

1. Capacity: The testator, the person making the will, must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. They must understand the nature and consequences of creating a will and the extent of their property.

2. In Writing: A will must be in writing, whether handwritten or typed. Oral wills, also known as nuncupative wills, are not recognized in Ontario.

3. Signature: The testator must sign the will at the end of the document. If the testator is unable to sign, they can direct someone else to sign in their presence and at their direction.

4. Witnesses: The will must be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses, who must also sign the document in the presence of the testator and each other. These witnesses cannot be beneficiaries or the spouse of a beneficiary under the will.

5. Revocation: A will can be revoked by destroying it with the intention of revoking it, by creating a new will, or by marriage (unless the will is made in contemplation of marriage).

Intestacy Laws

If a person dies without a valid will (intestate), Ontario’s intestacy laws determine how their estate will be distributed. The distribution typically follows a hierarchy, with spouses, children, parents, siblings, and other relatives receiving a share of the estate according to predefined rules.

Challenges to a Will

Challenges to the validity of a will can arise for various reasons, such as allegations of undue influence, fraud, or lack of capacity on the part of the testator. Contesting a will involves initiating a court proceeding, and the burden of proof rests on the party challenging the will.

Executor Responsibilities

The executor of a will is responsible for administering the estate according to the terms outlined in the will and in compliance with Ontario law. Their duties may include locating and managing assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the estate to beneficiaries.

Seeking Legal Advice

Given the complexity of estate planning and wills, it’s advisable to seek professional legal advice when drafting or updating a will. A qualified estate lawyer can ensure that your will complies with Ontario’s laws and accurately reflects your wishes.


Drafting a will is a critical aspect of estate planning, providing peace of mind and clarity for your loved ones after you’re gone. Understanding the requirements and nuances of Ontario’s will law is essential for creating a valid and legally binding document. By adhering to these laws and seeking legal guidance when needed, individuals can effectively plan for the distribution of their assets and protect their legacy for future generations.

*The above is drafted by Soica Law Professional Corporation and not intended as legal advice.