What constitutes a valid will? 

Generally, most people understand a will to be someone’s final words before death containing details as to how their property (estate) is to be handled, this is correct, but what makes the document legally valid?  A will, which may also be referred to as a testamentary document, must comply with the Wills Act [RSBC 1996] c.489 to be legally valid.  Essential requirements for a valid will include:

a)      Intended to have disposing effect;

b)      It is intended to be revocable (and revocable in fact);

c)       Intended not to take effect until after death and to be entirely dependent on death for its operation;

d)      It complies with the corresponding legislation of the relevant jurisdiction (as above).

-          Ss. 3 and 4 of the Wills Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 489

  • It must be in writing.
  • Signed at the end by the testator.
  • Testator acknowledges the signature in the presence of two witnesses.
  • Both witnesses sign in the presence of the testator.


A will must be valid in order for the Wills Variation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 490 to apply.

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