Wills, Estates + Trusts
Wills, Estates + Trusts
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Stay in the "know" with the most recent developments in Wills, Estates and Trusts on our BLOG.

Why You Should Have a Will

In Alberta, if you do not have a Will, your estate will be distributed pursuant to the intestacy provisions of the Wills and Succession Act. Other assets, such as property held jointly with another person or property which has a designated beneficiary (such as life insurance or RRSPs) will pass directly to the surviving joint owner or the designated beneficiary if they survive you, and generally not form part of your estate. There may, however, be circumstances where assets are held in joint tenancy for administrative convenience but are intended to be distributed to someone other than the joint tenant.

Your Spouse May Not Receive All of Your Estate

The Wills and Succession Act prescribes that, after payment of debts, your spouse or "adult interdependent partner" will only receive the whole of your estate if all of your surviving ‘descendants’ are also the ‘descendants’ of your spouse or adult interdependent partner. ‘Descendants’ is given a broad definition under the Wills and Succession Act, and means more than just children. Therefore, if even one of your children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren are not also the children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of your surviving spouse or adult interdependent partner - he or she will not receive the entirety of your estate.

Minor Children?

As a general rule, all property (including money) in excess of $5,000 which a minor (under 18 years of age) is entitled to receive must be delivered to the Public Trustee. If the surviving parent wishes to manage your child’s property on his or her behalf, they will have to obtain a Court Order appointing them as trustee of the child’s property. Of perhaps greater concern is that, without a properly drafted Will, the Public Trustee will be required to release all of your child’s or grandchild’s property to him or her when they reach the age of majority - irrespective of the value of the property or his or her ability to handle money. This situation can be avoided with a properly-drafted Will.


The biological or adoptive parents of a child are presumptively the legal guardians of the child - however, you may have concerns about your child’s other biological parent or want your spouse (who may be a custodial adult through second marriage but not your child’s biological parent) to be the guardian of your child. If such concerns or wishes are not clearly expressed in a Will, they are unlikely to be honoured.

Other Wishes

Do you want a particular child to receive all of your jewellery on your death? Is it your wish that the Guardian of your children not work outside the home? Do you want to be cremated? Do you want to designate the person who is to be the executor and Trustee of your estate? Do you want to leave a gift to a favourite charity? If so, you need a properly drafted Will. A Will is the only way to ensure that your choices regarding support and protection of your children, distribution of property, funeral instructions and any other testamentary wishes are communicated and legally enforceable.

Our Wills, Estates + Trusts team can assist you in creating an individualized estate plan, including drafting a Will which provides your Executor, Trustee and Guardian with your clear instructions. If you have a blended family which includes step-children or step-grandchildren, or you have children outside of your current relationship, you may wish to contact our Wills, Trusts and Estates department to discuss preparing a Will which properly expresses your wishes. Field Law's Immigration lawyers also regularly collaborate with the Wills, Estates + Trusts team team to provide one-stop service to clients with international aspects to their estate. 

Click here to sign up to receive invitations to seminars, webinars and events as well as online publications with the latest information from our Wills, Estates + Trusts team. 

Malmberg v Boyd , 2020 ABQB 326
Splett v Splett, 2017 ABQB 658
Splett v Splett, 2020 ABCA 61
Malmberg v Boyd , 2020 ABQB 80
Hood v South Calgary Community Church, 2019 ABCA 34
Estate of Alec Goodzeck, 2018 NWTSC 68
Moore Estate (Re), 2018 ABQB 614
Rodehutskors Estate (Re), 2018 ABQB 562
Birkenbach Estate (Re), 2018 ABQB 538
Edmunds Estate, 2017 ABQB 754
Lindsay Estate (Re), 2017 ABQB 452
Anderson Estate, 2017 ABQB 422
Anderson Estate (Re), 2016 ABQB 683
Nelson Estate (Re), 2014 ABQB 765
Nelson Estate (Re), 2014 ABQB 413
Brousseau v. Janz Estate, 2014 ABQB 136
Benefield v. Alberta (Public Trustee), Benefield v. Alberta (Public Trustee), 2001 ABQB 242
August 2020
The Best Lawyers™ in Canada 2021
38 Fielders Recognized
Field Law is pleased to announce that 38 of our lawyers are recognized in their respective practice areas in the 15th edition of The Best Lawyers™ in Canada. Recognition in Best Lawyers™ is based on peer reviews of ...
May 2020 - 4 min read
Virtual Witnessing of Wills in Alberta Not so Clear
Field Law Blog
May 2020 - 1 min read
Remote Witnessing of Wills, Enduring Power of Attorneys, and Personal Directives Arrives in Alberta
Alberta’s Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General has announced a process for remote witnessing and signing of wills, enduring power of attorneys, and personal directives during this time of public emergency. Temporary amendments have been...
May 2020
Legal Report: The Evolution of Medically Assisted Death
Canadian Lawyer
April 2020
Estate lawyers in British Columbia and Alberta Field End of Life Questions About Wills
Canadian Lawyer
April 2020
Ontario Court to Consider Whether a Will can be Witnessed Online
Globe and Mail
March 2020 - 2 min read
A Question of Priorities (If You Want to Administer an Estate)
March 2020
Sticky Situation: Sticky Note Will Accepted by Alberta Court
Field Law Blog
December 2019
No Life After Death: Woman Loses Battle to Use Deceased Husband’s Sperm
Surviving spouse loses fight to use reproductive material taken from deceased husband due to lack of consent.  In L.T. v D.T. Estate (Re), 2019 BCSC 2130, the BC Supreme Court dealt with a difficult and challenging application advanced by a s...
September 2019
The Best Lawyers in Canada 2020
34 Fielders Recognized
Field Law is pleased to announce that 34 of our lawyers are recognized in their respective practice areas in the 14th edition of The Best Lawyers™ in Canada. Recognition in Best Lawyers™ is based on peer reviews of leading lawyers and ...
May 2019
Estate Planning for Privacy
Field Law Blog
May 2019
Act On Your Legal Obligations to Avoid Post-Death Disputes
Field Law Blog
October 11, 2018
Field Law Introduces New Tax Team
Field Law is pleased to welcome five new lawyers, including one as partner, and two support staff who will significantly enhance the firm’s capacity to offer tax services to clients. As of Oct. 1, 2018, a group of new tax, cross-border, business ...
November 22, 2018
Tips + Resources for Charities and Non-Profits as Estate Beneficiaries
Wills, Estates + Trusts Seminar
Join Field Law’s Wills, Estates + Trusts Group and your colleagues from the non-profit sector for a complimentary lunchtime seminar. This seminar is designed to assist charities and non-profit organizations and their staff with an understanding o...
September 2018
The Best Lawyers in Canada 2019
28 Field Law Lawyers Recognized
Field Law is proud to announce that 28 of our lawyers have been included in the 13th edition of The Best Lawyers™ in Canada. These lawyers have been recognized in 17 service areas, resulting in a total of 36 rankings.Among the 28 Field Law l...
June 2018
Probate for Paddington: Michael Bond, CBE (1926-2017)
Field Law Blog
June 2018
Pay Attention to What You Pay For
Field Law Blog
June 2018
A Star Extinguished: Anton Yelchin (1989-2016)
Field Law Blog
May 2, 2018
Tips + Resources for Charities and Non-Profits as Estate Beneficiaries
Wills, Estates + Trusts Seminar
Join Field Law’s Wills, Estates + Trusts Group and your colleagues from the non-profit sector for a complimentary lunchtime seminar. This seminar is designed to assist charities and non-profit organizations and their staff with an understanding o...
March 2018
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Administration
Field Law Blog
March 2018
Double Duty: Executors’ Tax Filing Obligations
Field Law Blog
January 2018
Field Law Announces Two Partners
Firm Welcomes Malkit Atwal and Sharon Roberts to its Partnership
EDMONTON – Field Law is pleased to introduce Malkit Atwal and Sharon Roberts as partners of the Firm. The addition of Malkit and Sharon to Field’s partnership is an emblem of the Firm’s growth in 2017, and its continued expansion and ...
August 2017
The Best Lawyers in Canada 2018
25 Field Law Lawyers Recognized
25 Lawyers from Field Law Recognized in The Best Lawyers™ in Canada 2018 Field Law is pleased to announce that 25 lawyers have been included in the 12th Edition of The Best Lawyers™ in Canada. Three of these lawyers are new additions a...
June 2017
Define Who Your Children Are In Your Will
Field Law Blog
June 2017
The King of Pop on Death and Taxes
Field Law Blog
March 2017
Bequest Management for Charities in Canada (2nd Edition)
Contributing Author - Predrag Tomic
Written for charities and their advisors, this book is a great legal and practical guide on managing bequests. Along with Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, the second edition has been expanded to include Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the eastern pro...
June 2013
Alter Ego and Joint Partner Trusts: Estate Planning Beyond a Will
For many, estate planning begins and ends with the preparation and execution of a legally valid Will. Certainly, a valid Will, together with an Enduring Power of Attorney and a Personal Directive, allows an individual to dispose of their property ...
December 2012
Controversial Legislative Amendments on Ice
On February 1, 2012, the new Wills and Succession Act (“WSA”) came into force, consolidating succession legislation in Alberta. The legislation – as originally unveiled ­ included significant amendments to portions of the Mat...
February 2012
Legislation Alert: The New Wills and Succession Act
The Wills and Succession Act (“WSA”) came into force in Alberta on February 1, 2012. The WSA repeals and replaces significant portions of the legislation that governed wills and succession in Alberta. Some of the changes...
October 2011
Duties of Decision Makers Acting Under Enduring Power of Attorneys and Personal Directives
Enduring Power of Attorneys and Personal Directives are becoming increasingly important documents - and we strongly recommend that our clients prepare such documents to ensure that a decision maker is appointed in the event that our client becomes inca...


What is an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)?


An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) allows you to appoint someone (your Attorney) to manage your financial affairs. An EPA “endures” even if you lose your mental capacity, meaning that the person you appoint can manage your financial affairs in the event that you become mentally incapacitated.


What is a Personal Directive (PD)?


A Personal Directive (PD) allows you to appoint someone (your Agent) to make decisions with respect to personal and healthcare-related matters in the event you are unable to make reasonable decisions concerning such matters (or unable to communicate such decisions). A Personal Directive is also sometimes referred to as a “living will.”


What Are The Steps to Preparing a Legally-Enforceable Will?


The first step to preparing a Will, Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive is a consultation with a lawyer. Your individual needs and wishes will be discussed and you may be asked to complete an Estate Planning Questionnaire prior to the meeting. Once the documents have been drafted, the drafts will be sent to you for your review and comment. Once it is confirmed that the documents properly reflect your wishes, a meeting will be scheduled with the lawyer to execute the documents.


How Long Does It Typically Take for a Will to be Drafted?


A Will may be drafted quickly once final instructions are received. The process of finalizing a Will typically takes 4-6 weeks to complete (after the first meeting with an estate planning lawyer). However, we can typically prepare documents faster where such documents need to be executed on an urgent basis.


How Much Do You Charge to Prepare a Will?


As every individual has unique and specific requests and circumstances, our fees for preparing a legally-enforceable Will, Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive is determined on an individual basis. Please contact one of our lawyers for further information.


Disclaimer: The above information is intended to provide commentary on frequently asked questions in this area of law and should not be interpreted as providing legal advice.  Please contact a group member before acting on any of the information.

The following links are additional resources that may be useful:

Estate Planning Questionnaire

  • Our Estate Planning Questionnaire assists with the estate planning process.
  • The Questionnaire facilitates an efficient meeting, as it assists us in ensuring that we are aware of all relevant information, and promotes family discussion prior to the meeting. Fill in the Questionnaire and bring it in when meeting with us.
  • We also look forward to meeting with you in person to discuss estate planning considerations, in order to create a customized estate plan that is appropriate to your circumstances.
  • To book a meeting with one of our estate planning lawyers, please contact Cindy O'Hara at 403-260-8575 or by email at cohara@fieldlaw.com, or contact one of our lawyers directly (see the "People" tab for their contact information).
  • Please note, we suggest saving the above document to your computer prior to adding any information to the form