Once you’ve signed and witnessed your will correctly, you have a legally-binding will. Congrats! Now what? The key steps to take after making your will legally-binding are to register your will with CanadaWillRegistry.org (free for Willful customers), store the original copy of your will in a safe place, and inform your executor and any backups about where it’s located so they can find it easily.
There’s one additional step you can take to remove a step from your executor’s list after you pass away: getting a notarized affidavit of execution.
What is an affidavit of execution?
An affidavit of execution is a document that helps to confirm the validity of the will. This form is filled out by one of your witnesses, and states that they were with you when you signed your will, and that they were in the presence of you (the will-maker) as well as the other witness, and they confirm these statements to be true. After completing the form, the witness needs to get the form notarized, and then it is stored with your will.
It is then provided to the courts after you pass away as part of an executor’s application for a grant of probate - the process of the courts formally accepting the will and appointing the executor (for more about probate, read our guide to probate here).
Is this required to make my will legally-valid?
No. As long as you follow the instructions to create, sign, and witness your will correctly, you have a legally-valid will. An affidavit of execution is a separate document that is only required by the courts if your will is required to go through probate (a detailed description of probate and when it’s required is our guide to probate).
Do I have to get an affidavit of execution at the time I create my will?
No, you do not. Many people choose to get an affidavit of execution completed at the time they create their will, while others choose to get one in the future - it can also be completed after your passing.
Why would I get it now vs. later?
Many people opt to get an affidavit of execution at the time they create their will if:
- They want to alleviate this task from their executors’ list after they pass away
- They don’t expect to make updates to their will (an updated version of the will would require a new affidavit of execution)
Many people opt not to because they expect to make multiple updates over time; they don’t want to incur the cost now; or they simply do not take the extra step.
Is there a cost associated with it?
Willful provides free affidavit of execution documents for each of our active provinces (see the end of this article), but we do not have a notary on staff - you would need to pay to have the affidavit of execution notarized, which is typically $15-30. We have a partnership with Notary Pro in BC and Ontario to help you get this done easily online, and we’re working on additional partnerships in other provinces.
What happens if I pass away and I haven’t completed an affidavit of execution?
Your executor would find one of your witnesses, who would complete it after you pass. If both of your witnesses have passed away or are unreachable, your executor would have to show the courts they made a reasonable attempt to find them, and provide other evidence that helps to support the validity of the will. It’s a good idea to store the contact information for your witnesses with your will so your executor can easily track them down after you pass.
Is this required in all provinces?
An affidavit of execution is required as part of the probate process in all provinces except British Columbia.
Affidavit of execution links
We've gathered official government links (where applicable) and downloadable forms below. Please read through these forms and instructions provided carefully.