There are significant differences between writing a legal Will in Quebec and other provinces in Canada.
In addition to Quebec using a civil law system for Wills and successions, it also supports notarial Wills which do not require court verification after death.
When a person dies without a Will, they are said to died “intestate” and the state decides how their assets are distributed.
To avoid a situation where you have no control over how your estate is administered or who assumes guardianship (or tutorship) over your minor children, you should have a legal Will in place.
In this article, I cover the different types of Wills available in Quebec and online Will services that can help.
Types of Wills in Quebec
As already mentioned, Quebecers follow a slightly different set of rules when creating a Will.
The three main types of legal Wills in Quebec are Notarial Will, Holograph Will and Witnessed Will.
Notarial Will in Quebec
A notarial Will can be prepared by a notary, lawyer, or via an online platform, but it must be executed by a notary, and signed by a witness.
If you are looking to ensure your Will is in line with the law, a notarial Will is the way to go.
When all signatures have been appended to the Will, the notary files a copy with the provincial registry or Chambres des notaires and gives you a certified copy to keep.
Advantages of a Notarial Will
- A notarial Will does not need to go through probate and is rarely contested.
- The original Will is filed on your behalf and kept secure against loss or damage.
- A notary gives you legal advice and ensures the requirements of the law are followed.
- It can lead to a faster and cheaper administration of your estate.
- Your beneficiaries can avoid lengthy court disputes about your last wishes.
- Notarial Wills are now available digitally when you use a Will preparation service like Willful.
- It costs more than a witnessed or holographic Will.
- Other people are privy to your Last Will and Testament (i.e. the witnesses and notary public).
Will Made in the Presence of Witnesses
After writing this Will, it must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the document at the same time.
If you use an online platform to draft your Will, it must be printed and signed to become valid.
Attested or Witnessed Wills must be probated in Quebec after the testator dies.
If your Will is drafted by a lawyer, they can register it with Barreau du Québec. Beneficiaries or executors can search for a Will in the registers of Wills and mandates of the Barreau du Québec for a fee.
Advantages of a Witnessed Will
- Generally cheaper than a notarial Will.
- Can be registered and kept securely by a lawyer.
- Can be completed using an online Will platform with step by step guidance.
- Must be probated after death, potentially costing thousands of dollars in legal and other professional fees.
- Can be contested.
- Lawyer-written Wills can be expensive.
Holographic Will in Quebec
A holographic Will is a basic Will written in the handwriting of the testator.
This Will is as straightforward as taking a piece of paper, writing down your last wishes, dating and signing it. Witnesses are not required.
Holographic Wills must go through probate in Quebec.
If you want, you can have a notary register your holographic Will in the register of testamentary dispositions and mandates (chambres des notaires du Quebec), or have a lawyer register it in the register of testaments and mandates (Barreau du Québec).
The main benefit of a holographic Will is that it is free. Also, you can create several Wills without incurring costs.
- A holographic Will must be probated.
- As there are no witnesses, it can easily be contested in court.
- It may not fully comply with the law if you don’t understand the minimum requirements.
- May not be suitable for complex estates.
Overall, a notarial Will can make life easier for your beneficiaries.
If you choose to create an attested Will, make sure you sign a physical copy and your witnesses must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Not be a legatee (beneficiary) in your Will.
- Not be a liquidator (executor) of your Will
- Must be mentally competent.
How To Create a Legal Will Online in Quebec
These platforms allow you to make updates to your Will when required and provide instructions on the steps you need to take to make the Will legally enforceable.
1. Willful Quebec
Willful is a premier destination for online Wills in Canada.
Since it was established in 2017, Willful has been used to create over 50,000 estate planning documents and it is available throughout Canada.
Willful was the first company to offer fully digital notarial Wills in Quebec after COVID-19 emergency orders cleared the way for online executions of notarial Wills.
The table below shows what a Willful Will and Willful Notarial Will offer:
- Cost: $99 for a Will (Essentials plan); $349 for a Notarial Will.
- Promo Code: use SAVVY20 to get a $20 discount.
All Willful Wills include free updates on the Willful platform.
Note that if you update a notarial Will, a notary public has to execute it again and this comes at a cost.
If you live outside Quebec, you can still use Willful. Read about the plans available elsewhere in this detailed Willful review.
2. LegalWills Quebec
LegalWills is a provider of online Wills, Power of Attorney, and Living Wills. The platform was established over 21 years ago and now offers its estate planning services in Québec.
The type of Will supported by LegalWills in Quebec is the “Will Made in Presence of Witnesses”.
The company does not appear to offer Notarial Wills at this time.
- Cost: $39.95 for a Last Will and Testament.
- Promo Code: Use SAVVY20 to get a 20% discount.
A will created using LegalWills comes with 1 year of storage and updates.
If you want continued access to online storage and make updates after 1 year, you can purchase an add-on as follows:
- Add 1 year: $11.95
- Add 5 years: $24.95
- Add 10 years: $34.95
- Add 25 years: $74.95
- Lifetime: $124.95
Learn more about LegalWills in the review.
An online Will template that complies with the Quebec Civil Code can be used to create a Legal Will. Also referred to as a “Witnessed Will”, you will need to sign a physical copy in the presence of to witnesses. This Will type must be probated and can also be drafted using a lawyer.
The probate process in Quebec can cost up to $3,000, depending on the legal assistance you need.
In this case, the deceased is said to have died “intestate” and their estate is distributed following the provisions of the Civil Code.
Yes, a handwritten Will may be valid if it meets the basic requirements, including that it must be written by your hand and signed. Also known as a holographic Will, this type of Will must be probated in Quebec.
Related: Best Online Will Kits in Quebec.
What type of Will do you prefer? Let us know in the comments.