International Wills in Alberta
Many people immigrate to Alberta every year, and some of them have wills that were made outside of Canada, also known as international wills. Are those international wills recognized in Alberta? Yes, they are recognized, but only under certain conditions.
Alberta’s Wills and Succession Act has made the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will recognized law in Alberta since December 1, 1978. The Convention was coordinated by UNIDROIT, an independent intergovernmental organization established by the United Nations. In recognizing the Convention, Alberta recognizes valid international wills made anywhere in the world, by people of any nationality or residence, which concern property located anywhere in the world.
When someone has an international will (a “testator”), for it to be valid under the Convention (and therefore in Alberta):
- The international will must be in writing,
- This does not need to be in the in the testator’s own writing and can be in any language,
- The testator must declare the document is their will and that they know the contents of it,
- The testator must make that declaration in front of two witnesses and someone who is authorized to deal with international wills,
- In Alberta, lawyers are the people authorized to deal with international wills, but in other countries other people might be authorized,
- The testator does not have to tell the witnesses what is in the international will,
- The testator must sign on each page and at the end of the international will in front of those two witnesses and the authorized person,
- Where the testator is unable to sign, the authorized person will note this and the reason for it in the international will and then sign for the testator,
- In some countries, the testator may be allowed to tell someone else to sign on their behalf,
- The two witnesses and the authorized person must sign at the end of the international will in front of the testator immediately after the testator signs,
- The authorized person must record the date of the signatures at the end of the international will, and
- The authorized person must complete the required form and attach it to the international will.
For a valid international will to be recognized in Alberta, it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT). The procedure for this is simple. The testator or their authorized representative must bring the international will to a lawyer in Alberta. Where the lawyer agrees to act for that person regarding the international will, the lawyer must mail the international will to the OPGT by the 10th date of the next month. Provided all the documentation is in order, the OPGT will then register the international will.