Write Your Will to Cover Your Canadian Assets
How to write a legal UK Will when living abroad
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At LegalWills.co.za, we recommend that you write a Will for each country in which you hold assets.
Do you have assets in Canada, but you are now living in the UK? Or you now live in Canada, but already have a Will covering your assets in the UK or any other country?
Then our MyExpatWill™ (Canada) service is for you.
The MyExpatWill™ service allows you to create a legal "Expatriate" Last Will and Testament, which works together with any existing Will,
but specifically covers any assets that you own in another country.
Do you own assets in the United States, but live in a different country?
Learn about the MyExpatWill™ (U.S.) service
Do you own assets in England or Wales, but live in a different country?
Learn about the MyExpatWill™ (U.K.) service
If you own assets in a more than one country, or a different country than the one in which you reside, then you need an Expatriate Will.
When you die, your Will must be probated. The probate process serves two main purposes: it validates your Will as your official "Last Will and Testament",
and it formally appoints your Executor to serve as your estate administrator.
Your Will deals with the assets in a particular country,
and just as a British court would not accept a Will written under the laws of Azerbaijan, a foreign court will not necessarily accept a Will written under UK estate laws.
Your assets in each country will be probated according to the laws of that country, and so we recommend that you write a Will for each country in which you hold assets.
We offer an Expat Will service to help with this. Specifically, the MyExpatWill™ (Canada) service helps cover assets in Canada.
- If you are living in the UK and have UK assets, but you also have assets in Canada, you can use the MyExpatWill™ service to create your Canadian Will for your Canadian assets.
- If you are a Canadian living abroad, and need a Will to cover your Canadian assets, you can use the MyExpatWill™ service to create a Will whether or not you have a Will in your country of residence.
- If you are new to Canada and have assets in another country and already have a Will in place for that country, you can use the MyExpatWill™ service to create a Will for your Canadian assets.
The above examples are for Canada, but the MyExpatWill™ service also supports the creation of Expatriate Wills for assets in the United States and the United Kingdom.
This is NOT a blank form Will kit.
There is not a single DIY Will kit on the market today that can help you prepare an Expat Will.
For example, every Will kit starts with a "revocation clause" which cancels all previous Wills.
If you do this, you run the risk of cancelling any Will you have written for another country.
Our interactive service also provides guidance and error checking not found in a blank form Will kit. Read what makes us better
Writing an Expat Will used to be difficult.
Before we created the ExpatWill service, preparing a Will for a different country to your residence was extremely difficult.
You would have to work with a lawyer licensed to practice law in that country, which invariably meant traveling to the country in question.
Updating your Will would be equally problematic.
In the age of the Internet, and with decades of experience with online estate planning services, we have developed an affordable, convenient alternative.
Our MyExpatWill™ service guides you through a series of questions, all written in plain English.
There is no need to be a legal expert to prepare a lawyer-grade professional Will.
You simply answer the questions, and we generate a custom document that forms the basis of your Will,
but compliant with the laws of Canada (we also offer this service for the US, and for UK assets when living outside of the UK).
You simply sign the document in the presence of two adult witnesses who are not beneficiaries in the Will, and it becomes a legal document that can cover your assets held in Canada.
Accepted by a Canadian court. When you step through the service, online help is offered every step of the way.
Update your Will whenever you need to.
If you are living in South Africa, and have written a Will to cover your Canadian assets, you still may need to make changes.
Circumstances may change, either in your life, or for one of your beneficiaries.
Maybe your Executor is no longer the best choice.
Once you have created your Expat Will using our service, we store it within your account.
All the time your account is active with us, you can make unlimited updates.
You simply login to your account, make the change, and print a new Will.
Just sign this document in the presence of two witnesses and your new document reflects your current situation and your new wishes.
Have your Will reviewed by a lawyer.
Our service has been developed in collaboration with top estate planning legal professionals in Canada, South Africa, the UK and the US.
But you may have a particular plan that is confusing to you. If so, you can have your final document reviewed by one of our lawyers who will check the Will for consistency and completeness.
You need to write a Will today.
Sadly, most people do not have a Will. The process has traditionally been expensive and inconvenient.
Our MyExpatWill™ (Canada) service allows you to create an estate plan for your Canadian assets, whilst living outside of Canada.
You may feel that you don't need one because the distribution of your estate is obvious, but this is unlikely to be the case.
Even if your beneficiaries are the same with or without a Will, the process is much simpler with a Will.
You may feel that the process is too long, but in fact you can create your Expat Will in as little as 20 minutes.
You may think that writing a Will is expensive, but our ExpatWill service costs only
There is no situation where it makes sense to not have a Will. If you die without a Will, the courts appoint your estate administrator
(this may not be your first choice) and distribute your assets according to local laws (again, this is unlikely to match your wishes).
It is impossible to guess how your assets may be distributed without a Will, but we do know that if you write a Will, you make your own decisions.
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MyExpatWill™- Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Your Expat Will deals exclusively with the assets held in the country described in the Will.
If you live in the UK and all of your assets are in the UK, use the standard MyWill™
If you have assets in Canada, use the MyExpatWill™ (Canada) service.
Many people end up creating both Wills.
If you have assets in Canada, but you are living outside of Canada, then you should create an Expat Will to cover those assets.
If you are a Canadian now living in South Africa, but still own a house in Canada, then you should create an Expat Will to cover that house.
If you do not write an Expat Will, then the house will be distributed according to the intestate laws of the Province in which the house is located.
You should not postpone the writing of your Will. You should write a Will whilst you are young and healthy, and update it throughout your life.
Your assets will always be changing, so do not wait until you reach a future milestone. Write your Will today, and update it as your circumstances change.
Dying without a Will puts a tremendous burden on your family and loved ones.
If you use a lawyer, they would have to be licensed to practice law in Canada.
If you take this approach, you may even have to wait until your next trip to Canada before you make a Will.
Although the MyExpatWill™ question-and-answer wizard is applicable for most cases, there are circumstances where it is advisable to seek legal advice.
- If you are involved in a matrimonial dispute, or wish to disinherit your spouse or children.
- If you have a history of mental illness, or the question of your mental capacity may be raised in objection to the statements in the Expatriate Will.
- If you are under the age of adulthood.
- If you have a large, complex estate and feel that you would benefit from some advice on estate planning and tax reduction.
- If you think that somebody may challenge your Expatriate Will in court or you have any other doubts about your situation.
If any of the above situations apply to you, then we would recommend that you seek legal advice.
However, even in these situations there may still be value in stepping through our service to prepare yourself for a meeting with your lawyer.
We would recommend that you do not do this. A Will covering Canadian assets would have to be probated in Canada before the assets can be distributed to beneficiaries.
For a Canadian bank to release assets, they would want to see a "grant of administration" that is given to your Executor once the Will is probated.
A Canadian probate court will only accept a Will written under Canadian law. Canadian Wills are similar to South Africa Wills, but with some critical differences.
Even if you were able to include assets from multiple countries in a single Will, the process for administering the estate would take a very long time
and cannot be concluded until all foreign assets are dealt with.
We recommend that you prepare a Will written under Canadian law to handle your assets held in Canada.
This also allows you to name a different Executor for your Canadian assets, who would be better positioned to work with the Canadian probate system.
The Uniform International Wills Act was written to allow one Will to dispose of property in multiple jurisdictions.
Unfortunately, it requires that all property must be in a jurisdiction supported by the Act.
The adoption of this Act has been inconsistent.
In Canada and the United States, some States and Provinces support it, but others do not.
The U.K. does support it, but the vast majority of EU countries do not (France yes, Spain and Germany no).
As a result, it is not possible for us to provide services in support of The Uniform International Wills Act.
There is no advantage to preparing an international Will. We recommend that you simply prepare a separate Will for each country in which you hold assets.
For an informative and eye-opening comparison of the MyWill™ service to do-it-yourself legal will kits, read about it here
Specifically, if you wanted to prepare a Will to cover your Canadian assets whilst living in South Africa, there is no DIY Will kit that can help you.
In fact, no standard Will service would be appropriate for your situation. No standard Will service would deal exclusively with assets held in one jurisdiction.
In fact, most start with a "revocation clause" that cancels any other Will that you have.
When we reviewed blank form Canadian legal will kits and UK legal will kits, we were shocked by the poor quality, limited instructions,
and low value for money that many of these will kits provide. In addition, our account pricing model allows you to make updates to your document
as many times as you wish, all the time you have an active account with us. Every time you make an update, you can be assured that your document
reflects the most current laws in Canada, something that a blank form Will kit cannot do.
You can make updates to your Will at any time, day or night, from anywhere in the world. When you sign the document in the presence of two
adults who are not beneficiaries in the Will, you have a new up-to-date document that reflects your current circumstances.
In addition, by using the service at LegalWills.co.za you can take advantage of our complementary tools like MyMessages™
to create a truly complete estate plan.
Our Expat Will service allows you to prepare a legal Will for your assets in Canada.
The service costs
and this includes one year of unlimited updates to your document. At no additional charge, you can prepare messages to loved ones,
describe your funeral wishes, upload digital assets to a digital vault and designate Keyholders® to access important information at the appropriate time.
The complete pricing structure is available on our Products & Prices
When you step through the MyExpatWill™ service, you can prepare a Will that fulfills all of the legal requirements for a Will
in the U.S. (except Louisiana), Canada
and the UK (England and Wales only). But you must complete the signing
process to make the document a legal Last Will and Testament.
To make the document a legal Will, you should print it, and read it. Make sure that it represents your wishes and that you understand
everything in it. If you are unsure about any clauses in the document, please contact us
and we can provide more information for you.
To be a legal Will for your Canadian assets, it must be signed in the presence of two adults who are not beneficiaries in the Will.
We actually recommend that you find two witnesses who have nothing to gain from the contents of the document (so this would disqualify
the spouse of any beneficiary). The three of you should gather in a room together, and sign the document in turn. There is no requirement
to have the document signed by a lawyer, notarised, or registered with a government department in South Africa or in Canada.
There are more specific instructions within the MyExpatWill™ (Canada) service.
We recommend that you review your Expat Will every year or so, and more frequently if there are changes to your personal or financial situation.
Clearly, you need to update your Will if you go through a major life event like a marriage, divorce or the birth of a child.
But often the trigger for a Will update is less obvious. For example, if something happens to your Executor, or back up Executor,
or if you decide to include a charitable bequest in your Will, or one of your beneficiaries has a change in fortune.
All of these events may call for a review of your Will.
Our account structure allows you to make unlimited updates for the first year, and then maintain an account either year by year,
or by purchasing multiple years in 5, 10, 25 years or lifetime bundles.
More details regarding the membership packages available can be found when making your purchase.
This of course depends on the complexity of your estate and the assets. If you are leaving your entire estate to one beneficiary,
then the process is actually very simple and you could create your Expat Will in as little as 20 minutes.
But the service at LegalWils.co.za is not limited to simple estates. You can actually take as long as you need,
and some people prepare their Will over a period of days or weeks. You do not need to complete your Expatriate Will in one sitting.
You can answer a couple of questions and then store these wishes securely online here at LegalWills.co.za until you have more time to continue.
All of your information at LegalWills.co.za is stored in an encrypted format.
We do not store plain text files or even PDF versions of your Will.
The documents are generated on the fly, so even if somebody was to access our servers,
they would simply see a series of ones and zeros.
years of service,
we have never received notification of an unauthorised access to an account.
We provide more detail on our approach to security on our Security
All of our data is securely stored in a highly encrypted format on database servers.
To protect against catastrophic data loss, daily backups are performed on each of our servers.
Hence, if any one of our servers experienced technical difficulties, the data would not be at risk.
We provide more detail of our approach to data integrity on our Security
A joint Will is one document serving two people that attempts to cover the needs of a couple.
They used to be popular before the age of computers, because they saved the Will writer the time it takes to type out two separate Wills.
They were also popular in a time where women were considered to be a secondary owner of an estate rather than an independent asset holder.
The intention of a joint Will would be to allow each person to leave everything to the other and then have a backup plan in case both were involved in a common accident.
This scenario is actually better served by "Mirror Wills", whereby each person has their own independent document that names the other party as their main beneficiary.
Each Will would have a contingency plan in case there was a common accident.
Joint Wills have led to many confusing estates, with a surviving partner bound by terms that no longer make sense.
Do not create a joint Will, we recommend that you prepare Mirror Wills. You can create Mirror Wills using our service,
and you do not have to pay the full amount twice. The second Will receives a 40 percent discount off the standard pricing.
No. At LegalWills.co.za we do not offer legal advice pertaining to an individual circumstance.
We provide you with the tools to prepare your own estate planning documents, but we do not write your Will for you.
Our service allows you to prepare sophisticated legal documents, but we do not enter into a "client-attorney relationship"
which is not permitted in some jurisdictions. We do have an optional service that allows one of our lawyers review your document,
but we do not provide one-on-one legal consultations.
There is absolutely no legal requirement to use the services of a lawyer to prepare your Will.
The laws of Canada and South Africa allow you to prepare your own Will. You simply sign the completed document
in the presence of two adult witnesses to make it a legal Last Will and Testament.
There is no requirement to have the document reviewed or stamped by a lawyer. Nor does it have to be notarised.
You do not need to register your Will with any government department.
You simply store is somewhere safe in a place that is known and accessible to your Executor.
As you step through the service, we provide extensive online help on every page.
years in business,
we feel that we are addressing the most common questions within the service itself.
However, if you have any questions that you feel are unanswered within our service, you can send an email to
We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
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