Sample Last Will and Testament - 11 Free Sections Explained
We've compiled 11 sections commonly found in a Last Will and Testament and explained them in detail. Read our Estate Planning Glossary if you need help understanding the legal terms.
The sections are real quotes of legal documents LegalDeeds generates for customers. LegalDeeds is Canada's #1 online will provider since 1999.
The wording in a section can change depending on your unique situation. Try LegalDeeds' online will platform if you are looking to write your own will. A complete estate plan starts at $50.
Sample Last Will and Testament Sections
This is the Last Will And Testament of me, John Doe, presently of 123 St, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (herein referred to as my "Will").
To ensure clarity of intent, the document should clearly state that it is a last will and testament. The use of parentheses with the phrase "herein referred to" allows for other clauses in the document to refer to it simply as "Will" instead of repeating phrases like "this Last Will and Testament."
I am of sound mind and have the capacity to make this Will.
If the testator was not mentally capable when they signed the will, it may be challenged in court. To avoid ambiguity, the capacity clause in a will clearly indicates that the testator was of sound mind at the time of signing.
I revoke all former wills and codicils made by me.
This section ensures that the most recent version of the will is the one that governs the distribution of the testator's assets after their death. Without such a clause, there may be confusion or disputes over which version of the will is the most current or accurately reflects the testator's wishes.
Older wills often included "other testamentary dispositions" in the revocation clause. Lawyers stopped using this phrasing because of a court case where a similar clause was used to cancel the designated beneficiaries of a retirement fund, even though the will did not intend to change the retirement fund beneficiaries.
This Will is governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Ontario.
This clause can help prevent any conflicts or confusion that may arise from differing laws in different jurisdictions.
Appointment of Executor
I appoint my wife, Jane Doe, to be the Executor and Estate Trustee of my Will.
The executor is responsible for fulfilling your wishes after you pass away. The language used in the clause that appoints the executor can vary significantly depending on who is chosen for the role. For instance, the executor may be a law firm rather than a family member. Wills often include backup executors in case the primary choice is unavailable or unable to fulfill the role.
Any person who does not survive me for a period of at least 30 clear days will be deemed to have predeceased me for all the purposes of my Will. Notwithstanding the foregoing, any person appointed as a Trustee by my Will may act as such from the date of my death.
The survivorship period in a will is a time period of at least 30 clear days that a person must survive the testator in order to inherit any assets or property outlined in the will. This is to avoid complications that can arise if both spouses die within a short period of time, as it can result in double estate administration tax and double costs of administration. The survivorship clause ensures that only those who have survived the testator by at least 30 clear days can inherit from the will.
Disposition of Estate
I direct my Trustee to dispose of my estate in the following order:
My Trustee must pay out of and charge to the capital of my estate my just debts, funeral and testamentary expenses, income taxes, and all inheritance or succession duties and taxes whether imposed pursuant to the laws of Ontario or any other jurisdiction that may be payable in connection with any property passing on my death (or deemed to pass) or in connection with any insurance on my life or any gift or benefit given or conferred by me either in my lifetime or by survivorship or by this Will or any Codicil thereto and whether such duties and taxes be payable in respect of estates or interests which fall into possession at my death or at any subsequent time.
I authorize my Trustee to defer, commute, or prepay any such taxes or duties at their absolute discretion.
Outlines how the testator's assets and property will be distributed after their death. This clause typically includes instructions on who should receive specific items or amounts of money, as well as any conditions or restrictions that may apply to those distributions.
Most people consider the disposition clause to be the most important part of a will because it determines how their assets will be distributed after their death.
The complete disposition section of a will is lengthy and varies depending on the specific bequests the testator intends to make, so only the beginning is included in this sample. The introduction is crucial because it provides clear instructions to the executor to pay the required estate taxes as mandated by law. It also authorizes the executor to use the estate's funds to pay for any funeral expenses.
Capitalization of Income
Any income earned from the investment of a bequest must be allocated and paid to the beneficiary of that bequest.
Reduces ambiguity. For example, if a bequest includes a bond that has accrued interest, this clause would ensure that the interest is paid to the beneficiary designated to receive it, rather than leaving it open to interpretation or potential disputes among beneficiaries.
If the Will describes a bequest of property that is not in the estate at time of death, the beneficiary is not entitled to the equivalent value of the bequest.
Prevents a beneficiary from demanding equivalent value if a gift was given away before the testator passed away.
For example, if a testator bequeaths a piece of artwork to their nephew in their will, but later sells or gives away the artwork during their lifetime, the gift would fail because the asset is no longer available to be given to the nephew upon the testator's death. The anti-ademption clause prevents the nephew from demanding an amount of money from the estate equivalent to the painting's value.
My Trustee must use their best effort to locate every beneficiary or their issue.
Requires the executor to try to find everyone inheriting from the estate. A good Last Will and Testament also specifies how long the executor has to look for a beneficiary. LegalDeeds wills always say the executor can stop looking for a beneficiary if they are not found within two years of the death.
If the intended recipient of a portion of an estate cannot be located, the share of that portion would typically be distributed as if the recipient had already passed away. This means that either other beneficiaries or the children of the intended recipient would receive the share of the estate that was originally intended for them.
In the event of the death of me and my spouse before my children reach the age of majority, it is my wish that Jake Smith be granted guardianship of my children during their minority.
It's common for parents to include a clause in their wills to name a guardian for their children in the event of their death. The above is a sample guardianship clause that appoints Jake Smith as the guardian of the children while they are still minors. The will would also include other clauses that specify how the children's inheritance should be managed and invested until they reach the age of majority. Additionally, parents typically name alternative guardians in case the primary guardians are unwilling or unable to take on the responsibility.
There are other important sections in a will that are too lengthy to be included in this sample last will and testament. Other sections would aim to clarify things like how assets should be valued, the powers and responsibilities of the executor, how inheritances for minor children are managed, and other related matters to avoid misunderstandings or uncertainty.
Write Your Own Will
Writing a Last Will and Testament can provide peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be carried out and your loved ones will be taken care of.
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