- What you should know about a will
- What happens to children when there is no will
- Getting a lawyer to help write your will
- Estate administration publications and forms
A will is a legally binding document describing what you want done with your assets after you die. It can include instructions for your burial or cremation. Without a will, settling your estate could be more complicated and costly for your loved ones.
What you should know about a will
Anyone 19 years or older who is mentally capable can make a will. This means:
- you understand what you’re writing; and
- you appreciate the nature and extent of your property (assets).
You must voluntarily make your will. No person can pressure you into leaving someone:
- out of a will; or
- a gift you did not want to.
Make a legal will
You’re a "testator" when you make a will. For a will to be legal, you must:
- sign at the end of the document;
- have it witnessed by 2 people; and
- be present when the witnesses sign the document.
You can also have someone else sign your will for you if you:
- on your behalf; and
- if you’re present.
A holograph will was written by hand and signed by the deceased. It’s considered a legal will.
A beneficiary inherits an item or money from your estate. The person you appointed in your will to take care of your estate, the “executor”, gives out your assets.
Changing your will
You can make changes as long as you’re alive and mentally capable. You do not need anyone’s permission to make changes. You should talk to a lawyer to learn more.
What to include
- What to do with assets.
- Give powers to your executor.
- Wishes for your burial or cremation;
- Other wishes; these are not legally binding.
- Name a guardian and trustee for children under the age of 19.
You cannot give away property that you do not own, or your share of property you jointly own with 1 or more people in a joint tenancy.
In a joint tenancy, if 1 owner dies, the surviving owner(s) then own(s) the property. For example, a joint bank account.
Dying without a will
If you die without a valid will, you die "intestate". A relative or friend can apply to the Supreme Court of Yukon to become the executor of your estate. In rare cases, the Public Guardian and Trustee may apply.
Your friends and family
Cannot decide how to distribute your estate.
How is the estate divided?
- All debts are paid.
- The remainder goes to relatives in an order described in part 10 of Yukon’s Estate Administration Act.
Assets outside Yukon
If you own land or other assets outside Yukon, talk with a lawyer. Estate process vary in other jurisdictions.
What about special circumstances?
Talk with a lawyer to get accurate advice. The Public Guardian and Trustee can explain the estate process, but cannot give legal advice.
- You have a child under the age of 16.
- You have a child over the age of 16 who is unable to earn a livelihood due to a mental or physical disability.
- You’re a citizen of a Yukon First Nation that has laws governing inheritance.
- You have a former spouse or partner who's been dependent on you for the past 3 years.
- Your estate might have to continue paying child or spousal support after you die.
To learn more, read Ten common questions about wills and estates.
What happens to children when there is no will
- acts as the trustee of estates for children where there is no other trustee; and
- holds money in trust for minors until they turn 19.
The Public Guardian and Trustee charges fees for minor trust services provided to children.
Read our brochure about a minor trust and what you should know before cashing your cheque.
Getting a lawyer to help write your will
Finding a lawyer
You can use the Find a Lawyer directory on the Law Society of Yukon website, or phone law firms to ask for their standard rates for wills before you hire a lawyer. Lawyers set their own rates. This can be between $300 and $500 for a simple will.
Meet with a Lawyer Program
You can find lawyers who practice wills and estates law from the Law Society of Yukon.
In person: Suite 304 – 104 Elliott Street, Whitehorse.
The society will give you a certificate that gives you a 1/2-hour consultation with 1 of their lawyers for $30 which includes 5 per cent GST. Take the certificate with you to your appointment.
Yukoners living in any of the communities can use the Meet with a Lawyer program by phoning collect 867-668-4231. The staff will explain how you can use the service, and provide the names of lawyers on its list.
Will a lawyer visit a hospital?
If you’re too ill to go to a lawyer’s office, some lawyers will visit you in a hospital or at home. If you have mobility or health issues, you can ask your lawyer if they’ll visit you at home or in the hospital.
Estate administration publications and forms
The following guides provide detailed information about estate administration.
- Book 1 – Duties of an Estate Administrator
- Book 2 – Your Role as an Executor
- Book 3 – What is Probate?
- Book 4 – Closing an Estate
- Book 5 – List of Key Words - Estate Administration Resource Guide
Estate administration forms
Rules and forms – Supreme Court rule 64 or 65 and forms 74 through 89 apply to estate administration depending on the case.
- grant of probate (will)
- letters of administration (no will)
- letters of administration (will annexed)
- Use if the deceased died with a will.
- Give to the Public Guardian and Trustee if a beneficiary is:
- under 19 years of age; or
- is an incapable adult.
- Include the date of birth and current address of any beneficiary younger than 19 years old.
If you have questions about wills and estates, contact the Public Guardian and Trustee.
In person: 3rd floor, Andrew Philipsen Law Centre, 2134 – 2nd Avenue in Whitehorse.
Phone: 867-667-5366, or toll free in Yukon 1-800-661-0408, extension 5366