In today’s Calgary Herald (May 26, 2020) in the YOU (A13) section there is a piece entitled “Where there’s a will, that’s good”…. And that is good, getting information into the hands and minds of the larger portion of the population that do not have a will is welcome.

In this piece however, there is some misinformation that should be clarified:

“Even a handwritten letter of direction can be effective if it is signed and has two witnesses”

  • In Alberta, under the Wills and Succession Act, s.16 a person can create a “Will” wholly in their own handwriting – which does not require witnesses, this is known as a holograph will. A letter of direction may not be seen as your last will and testament.


“…should you die without a will: First, the Canadian Government will immediately become the executor of all your assets:”

  • Not so, actually, the Alberta Government, through the Office of the Public Trustee, will take charge of your estate. However, if there is family available the law in Alberta allows family, in particular priority, to apply to administer your estate.


“A surviving spouse is entitled to the first $200,000, with the remainder to be split to all those family members the government believes have a claim”

  • A surviving spouse may be entitled to the entire estate, depending on the family situation – if the surviving spouse is also the parent of the children of the deceased or if there are no children, the spouse is entitled to the entire estate, if there is a blended family, the distribution changes.


Rather than taking a risk, consult with a lawyer, your loved ones with thank you.