Cutting your own hair. Building your own house. Delivering your own baby. Doing your own taxes.
Lots of people can do these things themselves, but before they do they weigh many factors, including: What’s the risk of doing it wrong? How much effort is involved? Am I competent and capable enough to do this? How much is it going to cost me?
The same goes for your decision to hire a lawyer for your will.
As one of Calgary’s leading resources for will and estate planning, we get the following question often: “Just how much does it cost to do my will with a lawyer?” We know that this question isn’t purely related to cost, it’s a question of “Can I do this myself?” and is it ‘worth it’ to pay for a lawyer?
Here’s what you need to know to confidently decide if you need a lawyer to write your will, what knowledge you need to have on-hand before DIY-ing your will, the average cost of writing a will here in Calgary, and, last but certainly not least, who can legally write a will.
“Do I Need a Lawyer to Write a Will?”
People thinking about writing a will know (or at least have a strong hunch) that they can use a will-writing kit and do their will themselves without the help of a lawyer. Some people do not need a lawyer to create a legally sound will. However, skipping out on professional guidance runs the risk of missing important details and information that could potentially make the emotional and financial burden of executing your will greater than if you had no will at all.
Wills are one of those things that, while you don’t really want to spend any money on it, it will almost always be quicker and easier to do professionally than to try and do it yourself. We here at One80 Law are happy to help you identify when bringing a lawyer onboard will save you time and money — or when you’re going to be fine on your own.
What You Need to Know for DIY-ing Wills
There are different types of wills and each have different standards of validity. Your handwritten will or your DIY will kit may not meet those standards whereas your lawyer’s Last Will & Testament will be up to provincial standards.
Are handwritten wills recognized?
Handwritten wills— more commonly known as holographs— are wills that you write by yourself that have no other witnesses. They are legal in Alberta but are not legal in all Canadian provinces and territories (they’re not recognized in British Columbia, for example). Doing your own handwritten will may miss some critical legal guidelines that can require a lot of time in the long-run.
Formal wills are ones that have been witnessed and signed in your presence by two other parties. These formal wills tend to hold more weight if disputed. Using a DIY will kit for a formal will helps you to identify each of the different sections of information that need to be completed to assure that you’ve done your due diligence and haven’t missed any important information.
Each will needs to follow a basic standard and that standard is most often outlined in the DIY kits. It’s all those unique scenarios that don’t surface until you’re asked the right questions that make legal guidance worth every dollar.
The Cost of a Lawyer for Wills
Turning to a lawyer for help with your will is advantageous for situations where:
- You have been or are getting married or divorced
- The estate in question is large or complicated (such as multiple business assets or minors who have special needs)
- The family is blended or there are joint tenants
- There is outside influence involved
- Estates in the will involve First Nations reserves
At One80 Law Group, we price our services to ensure that we’re not adding financial stress to a potentially emotionally charged process. Our price to complete your Will is $499 for an individual and $599 for a couple; pricing that is well below the average rates in Canada of about $900 for individuals and $1500 for couples.
> Read More: If you’re ready to get started, you may be interested in knowing What to Bring Your Lawyer to Write Your Will.
Who Can Legally Draft their Own Will?
In Alberta, anyone over the age of 18 who is sound of mind is legally able to draft their own will. A person under 18 can draft a will if they meet the following requirements: they have a spouse or adult interdependent partner; they have a court’s permission; or are an active member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
We here at One80 Law recommend that you draft a living will to avoid the two common problems that arise after a person dies: no Personal Representative to oversee estates and no formal written record of what you wanted beneficiaries to receive.
At a minimum, we strongly encourage everyone to at least see a wills lawyer to review drafted will documentation to ensure that it will not need to be redone in the future (and that it meets legal standards now!)
Redoing (or updating) a will commonly happens:
- After significant life events such as having a child, getting married, or becoming separated from a spouse
- During certain time intervals, specifically every five years or so
- Financial changes like investments, retirement, and buying or selling property
While doing a will yourself may seem “free”, take it from us: the time investment of future amendments, legality-checking, and initial drafting is far from. The reality is that our one-time fee of $499.99 is not only below the overall Canadian average, but will save you an enormous time, financial, and emotional toll in the long-term. Looking to have your will done (or redone!) quickly, correctly, and affordably? Make your will with us today.