Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the first step towards getting your will done in Quebec. Whether you’re making a will for the first time, or you’re updating an existing will, it can be an overwhelming process - especially because Quebec laws are different from the rest of Canada. In this article we’re breaking down everything you need to know about notarial wills, a type of will that’s unique to Quebec, so you can feel confident in your decision to get a notarial will with Willful.
What is a notarial will?
A notarial will is a specific type of will that has to be executed by a notary. You may have visited a notary if you’ve purchased a home - they are professionals who are licensed by the Chambres des Notaires, and in Quebec they have the power to draft and execute wills.
Notarial wills are the most common type of will in Quebec because if you create a notarial will, your estate is not subject to probate. Probate is a time-consuming and in many cases expensive process which involves the courts declaring that a will is valid. Creating a notarial will may cost more now, but it saves your family time and money after you pass away.
Do I have to visit a notary to make a notarial will?
No. While a notarial will has to be executed by a notary (an appointment where they sign the will and register it with the Chambres des Notaires), it can be drafted by a lawyer, or created online with Willful’s Notarial plan.
The document itself has to follow guidelines set out by the Chambres des Notaires, and at Willful we worked with a partner law firm Spiegel Sohmer to draft our legal content, and we also work with a partner notary in Quebec.
Can I complete a notarial will online?
Due to emergency measures put in place due to COVID-19, the Chambres des Notaires is allowing for digital executions of notarial wills. With Willful’s Notarial plan, you can create and sign your will online. We guide you through creating your document, and connect you with our notary partner to electronically sign your document. The notary then registers and stores your document online. Voila!
What is the price of making a notarial will in Quebec?
With Willful, a notarial will is $349, and that includes an appointment with our partner notary to execute and register the will. If you visit a notary in your area, you can expect to pay anywhere from $350-$1,000+ for a notarial will (depending on where you live and the complexity of your situation).
What are my options if I don’t want to get a notarial will?
In Quebec there are a few other ways to make your will:
- You can handwrite your will on a piece of paper (called a holograph will)
- You can use a paper will kit or purchase Willful’s $99 Will plan (will in front of witnesses)
- You can hire a lawyer to draft your will
In all three examples above, the will you create is called a “will in front of witnesses” - it is a different type of will than a notarial will. The main difference is that a notarial will does not require probate, whereas any other type does require probate.
Learn more about different types of wills in Quebec →
Wait, what is probate again?
Probate is the process of a will being accepted as valid by the court system. It is initiated by the will’s named liquidator, or any interested party, “applying for probate” to the Quebec court system. There’s a simple rule for whether probate is required: if you execute a notarial will, probate is not required. If you have any other type of will, probate is required.
The probate process is designed to confirm whether a will meets the formal requirements set out by the Quebec Civil Code. The Civil Code dictates that notarial wills are not subject to probate.
Are there any other benefits to having a notarial will?
Other than avoiding probate after you pass away, here are a few benefits of notarial wills:
- They cannot be lost or destroyed
- They are registered with the Chambres des Notaires, so you don’t have to story a copy (although the notary will provide a certified copy for your records)
- Your family will always be able to find and access the will when you pass away (which isn’t always the case if a will is stored in your filing cabinet at home)
- Your liquidator can start administering the estate immediately vs. having to wait up to several months to receive a grant of probate
- If you hire a lawyer to help with the probate process, it can cost up to $3,000 - a notarial will avoids these fees
Okay, I’m sold. What do I need to know about creating a notarial will with Willful?
We partnered with top Quebec law firm Spiegel Sohmer to develop all of our legal content, including our notarial will. That copy has been reviewed by our partner notary, who also handles all of our notarial will executions. Here’s a step-by-step overview of the notarial will process on Willful:
- When you purchase the notarial will plan on Willful, we guide you through the process of completing your will. We ask you a set of simple questions about who you want your liquidator to be; who you want to appoint to care for children and pets (if relevant); and how you want your assets to be distributed.
- After you complete that process (which takes about 10-15 minutes, as long as you know those choices in advance), we’ll provide you with a PDF document that you can review to ensure you’re happy with it. Your will is not legal at this point - you still need to get it executed by our partner notary.
- Once you’ve reviewed the document, you’re ready to set up your digital execution appointment with our notary partner. We’ll provide a link to book a 20-minute appointment, and we’ll provide you with a guide that explains exactly how to prepare for the meeting, and what will happen during the meeting.
- If you have questions, you can book time to speak with our team - they can answer any questions about notarial wills, the notary appointment, or any other Quebec-related will questions (note that we can only provide legal information; not legal advice).
- During the appointment, you will electronically sign the will, and our partner notary and a witness she provides will also sign the will. She will then register it with the Chambres des Notaires, and send you a certified copy for your records.
- If you need to make updates to your will at any time in future, you can make edits for free in your Willful account - but the changes won’t be legal until you go through another execution appointment with a notary (note that Willful’s Notarial plan includes one appointment with a notary; any future appointments will incur a cost. So make sure you review your will and implement any changes before setting up your appointment)