In our office, we have all of our estate planning clients fill out a questionnaire before coming in to see us. Our questionnaire is about five pages long, and goes through who is in the family, what assets you have, and whether you have agreements that we might need to review. It is designed to ensure that we have enough background information to properly advise you on your estate plan.
In British Columbia, a woman took this a bit farther. She had a questionnaire from her lawyer, but she knew that she was dying and would not have time to sign a will before she passed away. So she stapled her wishes on a piece of paper to the back of the questionnaire, and signed it in front of two witnesses.
After her death, her executor submitted the signed questionnaire to the court as a will. Recently, the courts found that it was, in fact, a valid will, and approved it.
I agree with this decision. While it is not a conventional will by any means, it did have rough instructions, a date, a signature and witnesses. While it would have been best to have a formal will drafted, when there isn’t time, this type of document will do the trick.
You can read the entire case, Garnett v. Garnett, here.