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How to Make a Will in Manitoba

In this article:

    Making a will is one of the most important things you can do to protect your assets and make sure your final wishes are carried out after you pass away. However, many Canadians avoid making one because they think it's complicated or expensive. 

    In this article, we’ll cover the steps to drafting a will in Manitoba, including tips on what to put in your will, who to name as your executor, and how to make sure your will is legally binding. By the end, you'll have the tools you need to put a plan in place and gain control over your legacy.

    Key takeaways

    • There are four ways to make legal wills in Manitoba: holographic wills, will kits, online wills, and lawyer-drafted wills
    • A will in Manitoba does not need to be notarized by a lawyer to be legal
    • Inheritance laws in Manitoba treat common law partners the same as married spouses allowing them to receive an inheritance if their partner or spouse passes away without a will (intestate)
    • There are no probate fees in Manitoba

    Introduction to wills in Manitoba

    Like yourself, many people in Manitoba choose to make wills for a variety of reasons like:

    • Choosing an executor and estate trustee they can rely on to manage their estate
    • Appointing someone they trust as a guardian for their dependent children or pets
    • Leaving specific gifts to their loved ones
    • Protecting the inheritance of a common law partner
    • Documenting their funeral and burial wishes
    • Supporting important causes with charitable donations

    What are the different types of wills in Manitoba?

    There are four types of legal wills in Manitoba:

    1. Holographic (handwritten) wills

    In Canada, a handwritten will is called a holographic will. A holographic will is written and signed by you, the testator, without the help of any mechanical processes. This means you cannot use a computer, typewriter, phone, or other machinery to create the will. 

    Generally, these wills are created with only pen and paper. 

    Holographic wills are the only type of will in Manitoba that does not need to be witnessed.

    🎖️🛟 Other witnessing exceptionsA member of the armed forces, while on active service, or a mariner or a seaman when at sea or during a voyage, can write and sign a legal will without needing witnesses.

    2. Will kits

    A will kit is a fill-in-the-blank document where you fill in key information about your estate. A typical kit includes fields to insert your name, the name of your appointed executor, your appointed guardians and dependants, and any beneficiaries. 

    As a one-size-fits-all approach to writing a valid will in Manitoba, a will kit doesn’t offer much personalization.

    3. Online will platforms

    An online will is a document you create through an online will platform.

    For example, at Willful, you can create your online will by answering relevant questions about your life situation, including your marital status, dependents, executors, beneficiaries, and more. 

    Once you’ve input all your end-of-life wishes, we create a customized legal last will and testament for you. 

    Making an online will with Willful is easy and can take as little as 20 minutes. Willful wills are also lawyer-approved in Manitoba and every other province in Canada!

    The easiest way to create your legal will in Manitoba. Start yours today →

    Plus, with Willful, you can get your will, power of attorney documents, and asset list done all in one place!

    4. Lawyer-drafted wills

    If you need personal legal advice, you may choose to have your will prepared by an estate lawyer. While usually the most expensive type of will, lawyer-drafted wills may be ideal if you have a complex situation or want to add multi-faceted clauses to your will. 

    How much does a will cost in Manitoba?

    The cost of a will varies depending on how it’s prepared: 

    • A holographic will is often just the cost of a pen and paper.
    • A Canadian will kit costs about $50.
    • The cost of online wills vary depending on the platform, what’s included in the will, and how it’s made. Willful’s lawyer-approved wills are $99 and also come with free unlimited updates.
    • A Manitoba lawyer might charge $300 or more for a simple will, while more complex wills can cost a few thousand dollars.

    How to create a will in Manitoba

    Step 1: Identify who you want to include in your will

    Important roles in a will include:

    • Executors and estate trustee(s): The person responsible for carrying out the wishes in your will, distributing funds to your beneficiaries, and acting on behalf of your business and financial interests. This can be more than one person.
    • Guardian(s): If you and your spouse pass away, your child's guardian(s) will assume management of their assets. This can be a single person or a person and their partner.
    • Custodian(s): The custodian(s) of your child is responsible for their physical custody if you and your spouse pass away. Often, the custodian is the same person as the guardian.
    • Beneficiaries: People named within your will to receive your property or assets after you pass away. Beneficiaries can also be executors, custodians, or guardians.some text
      • Note: Like married spouses, common law partners are automatically entitled to receive an inheritance of your estate if you pass away without a will (intestate). If you’re unsure whether or not you and your partner are legally considered common law, make sure to protect them and their inheritance by adding them to your will.
    • Backups: Naming backups or substitutes in your will adds additional layers of security if someone is unable to take on their role due to unexpected circumstances, such as lack of capacity, death, refusal of the role, or other circumstances. 

    Step 2: Speak to your chosen people

    Discuss your final wishes with your loved ones and the people you want to include in your will. The roles of executor and guardian require some degree of commitment, so it’s important to communicate your wishes before you appoint them.

    Step 3: Think about how to divide your estate

    How do you want your estate to be distributed? Do you want to leave everything to your spouse or partner, divide it equally among your family, leave some to charity, or place some into a trust? There are many things to consider, so take the time to plan out how you’d like your assets to be dealt with. 

    Step 4: Choose how you want to write your will

    Now it’s time to choose how you want to make your will. In Manitoba, you can handwrite it, fill in a will kit, use an online will platform like Willful, or go to a lawyer’s office.

    ↑ For more details, see the section above: What are the different types of wills in Manitoba?

    Step 5: Sign your will

    Once you’re ready, it’s time to sign your will in front of two witnesses. Document your information and make sure to meet the legal requirements for your chosen type of will to make it legal. More about what makes a legal will in the next section!

    Step 6: Store your will somewhere safe

    Keep your will somewhere safe, and let your executor know where it is so it can be easily found after you pass away. 

    Legal requirements for wills in Manitoba

    There are three requirements for a will to be legal in Manitoba:

    1. The maker of the will must be at least 18 years old and be of sound mind. some text
      1. There are two exceptions to this requirement: if the will-maker is or was married, or if the will-maker is a member of the armed forces, they are eligible to make a legal will.
    2. The will must be in writing.
    3. The will must be signed in front of at least two valid witnesses unless:some text
      1. The will is made by a member of the armed forces on active service or a sailor at sea
      2. The will is a holographic will and is signed and dated by the will-maker

    Can I write my own will in Manitoba?

    A person must write and sign their own will, either through usual means or accessibility accommodations. No one can write or sign your will for you.

    If you are at least 18 years old, are or have been married or are part of the armed forces, you can create a legally-valid will.

    Who can notarize a will in Manitoba?

    A lawyer or a notary can notarize a will in Manitoba, though notarization is not mandatory for a will to be legal.

    Do all wills have to be probated in Manitoba?

    No, not all wills need to be probated. The probate process in Manitoba is only required if you have solely owned assets.

    Some assets do not pass through your estate, and so would not need to go through probate. These include things like:

    • The CPP Death Benefit
    • Life insurance proceeds with a named beneficiary 
    • Jointly held property with a right of survivorship
    • RPPs, RRSPs, RRIFs and TFSAs with named beneficiaries
    • Real estate in another province or country (though these assets might be subject to probate in the jurisdiction they’re in)

    What is the cost to probate a will in Manitoba?

    There are no probate fees in Manitoba. However, if you hire an estate lawyer to handle the probate process, they can still charge fees.

    Executor and beneficiary roles

    The executor’s role is one of the most important roles of an estate plan. An executor’s duties in Manitoba include:

    • Organizing the funeral and burial
    • Paying off any estate debts or liabilities
    • Distributing assets to beneficiaries
    • Managing or selling property and businesses (if necessary)
    • Filing final tax returns
    • Communicating with heirs and beneficiaries
    • Acting impartially and in the best interests of the estate
    • Defending the will against any will challenges

    What is the executor fee in Manitoba?

    According to section 90 of Manitoba’s Trustee Act, executors are entitled to receive a “fair and reasonable allowance” for their services. Also known as executor fees, this compensation can depend on the complexity of the estate, the abilities of the executor, or other factors.

    The law, however, does not specify a fixed amount or a percentage of the estate that an executor can charge as fees. So, unless the will outlines a specific amount as compensation, the executor’s compensation would depend on what can be agreed upon by them and the beneficiaries of the estate.

    When are there no executor fees?

    There are situations where an executor does not receive compensation. These include cases where;

    • The will specifically states that the executor will not receive compensation, or
    • The executor denies compensation, or
    • The executor, perhaps due to challenges or other legal action, is not entitled to any compensation

    The responsibilities of beneficiaries

    On the other side of things, one of the responsibilities of beneficiaries is to ensure that the executor is properly settling the estate. 

    This is because beneficiaries have two primary rights or entitlements: the right to contest and the right to receive information.

    Since beneficiaries are entitled to receive information about the estate's assets, liabilities, and distribution process, the executor must keep beneficiaries informed throughout the settlement process. If they don’t, beneficiaries have a right to contest and take legal action against the executor for failing in their duties.

    Who is entitled to see a copy of a will in Manitoba?

    The executor must read the will to settle the estate according to the deceased’s wishes. In Manitoba, beneficiaries named in a will are also entitled to receive a copy of the will and information about the assets gifted to them. 

    If a will is probated, it becomes a public record. At that point, anyone can apply to the court to view a copy of the probated will. 

    Because probate makes a will publicly accessible, you must never include sensitive information such as passwords or account numbers in your will. 

    Making and updating your will

    Creating or changing a will in Manitoba is easier and more affordable than you may think. With Willful, you can start estate planning in Manitoba easily for just $99, saving you thousands compared to a lawyer. Plus, you get free unlimited updates!

    Every day, people make or update their wills because of life events such as moving to a new province, getting married, entering a common law relationship, having a child, adopting a pet, buying a house, and more.

    Start your own will today and get peace of mind tomorrow →

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