Every province has its own legislation relating to Wills and Estates. If you live outside of Alberta, please consult a lawyer in your province to ensure you get the correct information. There are three types of wills commonly used in Alberta:

  • Formal Wills
  • Holographic Wills
  • Military Wills

Formal or Conventional Wills

To ensure that a formal Will has all the requirements under Alberta’s Wills and Succession Act, a formal Will is generally written by your lawyer to include a number of required “formalities” such as:

  • They must be written (not verbal).
  • They must be signed – either by yourself, or by someone you trust in your presence.
  • Your signature must be placed at the end, where it is clear that it applies to all of the wording of your Will. Any wording included after your signature will be declared invalid.
  • Must have two witnesses to be valid. These witnesses cannot be a named beneficiary in your Will or your legal spouse. The witnesses must both be present and watch you sign your Will.

These formalities are a safeguard to you against issues like: fraud, forgery, and undue influence. In the event of legal challenges, they help ensure your loved ones are protected. A formal Will that doesn’t include these formalities will be invalid.

Holograph Wills

This Will is made entirely in the handwriting of the person making it, and must be signed by that person. They do not have to be witnessed, but there can be NO typing at all in a Holograph Will. They are also not recognized in every province, so it’s important to check on that before you rely on this type of Will.

In Alberta, Holograph Wills are valid if they show a clear intention to leave gifts after death. These types of Wills are often incomplete and declared invalid if not properly written up. Without the guidance of an experienced lawyer, people may not express their intentions adequately, and therefore, having this type of Will is often no different from having no Will at all – since they are easily declared invalid.

Military or Mariner Wills

If you are on active duty in the Canadian Armed Forces, or are a mariner (sailor), you may make a Will using a written document which you personally sign, or have someone else sign in your presence. These Wills do not require a witness, and they remain valid even after you are no longer in the service. If you are not on active-duty, you should have a formal Will drafted by your lawyer.


Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions that aren’t answered on our site, or to schedule an appointment. We’re always happy to chat with you about any of your legal needs.