Holographs aren’t just for Star Trek


You’re about to jump out of a plane with nothing but a parachute on your back, and suddenly realize you don’t have a will. What do you do?

Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act provides that a will can be done entirely in the testator’s own handwriting, signed at the end. The will must be completely in the testator’s own handwriting; any typed portions will generally be considered invalid if the will is not properly witnessed. The formalities of a will are often bypassed for a holograph will. One of the most famous examples of a holograph will in Canada involved Cecil George Harris, who scratched his last instructions into the fender of the tractor under which he was trapped; the fender was eventually probated, and his estate was passed to his wife. (You can see the fender at the University of Saskatchewan.)

While a formal lawyer-drafted will generally offers the most protection for your assets, if you need a will in a hurry, a holograph will offers a valid alternative.