When applying for a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will, the applicant must be certain that the Will annexed is the Last Will and Testament of the Deceased. Ideally, the testator will have discussed the location of their Last Will with a trusted family member, friend or professional and it will be easily located at the appropriate time. 

If this is not the case, there are a number of places to begin your search for a Last Will, as discussed by Sean Lawler in his article “Wills Kept by the Law Society of Upper Canada” in the most recent issue of Deadbeat, a publication of the Trusts and Estates Law Section of the Ontario Bar Association.

Some of the places Wills are often kept include the following:

  1. The drafting lawyer’s Wills vault.
  2. Among the Deceased’s possessions.
  3. In a safety deposit box.
  4. With the Executor.
  5. With an attorney for property or for personal care.
  6. On file with the Superior Court of Justice pursuant to Section 2 of the Estates Act, which establishes a Wills depository administered by local Court offices.

If you are unsuccessful locating a Will as above, you can place an ad with the Ontario Reports or other publication to determine if another lawyer who acted for the Deceased, or any other person, is in possession of a Last Will.

One other place to look is the Law Society of Upper Canada (“LSUC”). The files of many lawyers who die, retire, or are disbarred are transferred to LSUC’s Trustee Services Department. Most files are now stored electronically.

LSUC keeps over 45,000 Wills, a number that increases by approximately 3,000 per year. The Wills register can be searched by the name of the lawyer or by the name of the Testator.

The key takeaway here is that estate planning should not be a secret. Discuss your Will with your family (contents and location) and make it easy on loved ones when the time comes to probate your Will.

Sharon Davis – Click here for more information on Sharon Davis