After Making Your Will
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Helen Low, QC in January 2016.|
After making your will, you should register it and keep the original in a safe place.
Where should you keep your will?
You need to keep the original of your will in a safe place that is fireproof, waterproof, and tamper-proof. There is a presumption that a lost will has been destroyed and revoked, so take care in storing the will.
Tell your executor where you have stored your will. The executor needs to know where it is, so that he or she can easily access it after your death.
How do you register your will?
You can register your will with the provincial government’s Wills Registry. The law does not require this step, but it’s a good idea because it lets others know where you have stored the original copy of your will.
To register your will, you (or your lawyer or notary public) need to file a Wills Notice with the Wills Registry maintained by the provincial government’s Vital Statistics Agency. The Wills Notice is a form that you fill out to say that you have made a will and the location of the will. You do not provide a copy of the will to the Wills Registry, just the Wills Notice.
Can you change your will after you've made it?
You can make a new will at any time. Or you can change the will you’ve made by signing a separate document, called a codicil.
To be legal, the codicil has to meet the same requirements as the will. For example, it must be in writing, and be signed by you and two witnesses. You don’t have to use the same two witnesses you used for your will. The codicil must refer to the will it is amending.
Can you cancel your will?
Yes, you can cancel your will by:
- destroying the original will (you must destroy it with the intention of revoking it), or
- making a written declaration revoking your will, signed in the same way as a will (for example, signed by you and two witnesses).
A new will normally cancels any previous will. Even so, it is common practice to clearly provide for this by including a revocation clause at the beginning of a will:
- “I hereby revoke all my prior wills and codicils.”
Neither marriage nor divorce of the will-maker cancels a will. The exception is if you married before March 31, 2014, and made a will prior to your marriage. Your will would have been automatically cancelled on your marriage, unless the will said that it was made in contemplation of your marriage.
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