Alberta Law Reform Institute: Alteration and Revocation of Electronic Wills

March 13, 2024

The Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) is making recommendations for how people can alter or revoke their electronic wills in Alberta. ALRI’s full report, Alteration and Revocation of Electronic Wills, Final Report 120, is now available.

People are increasingly using digital tools to manage their personal affairs. In some jurisdictions, wills are no longer restricted to paper and individuals are beginning to execute their testamentary documents electronically. In Alberta, the Wills and Succession Act (WSA) governs the creation of wills but does not address wills created using electronic means. This leads to a lack of clarity for lawyers, estate professionals and the public.

The Need for Reform

ALRI conducted extensive consultations with the public and estate planning professionals to assess what people expected from the law when making changes to their will.

Public consultation demonstrated a general expectation that alterations to electronic wills would be done directly in the document. In consultations with estate practitioners, there was support for allowing alterations to be made in the electronic will as this would better support the intentions of people changing their wills. Practitioners stressed, however, that the original formalities that were used to create the electronic will should also be followed to alter it. High levels of support for the revocation of electronic wills through the creation of a new will, or by written declaration were also shown during both public and professional consultation.

What ALRI is Recommending

The alteration of electronic wills should follow the WSA and allow testators to alter their electronic wills directly by making changes that follow the original rules used to make it, or making a new will. A person who wants to revoke an electronic will should be able to do so by creating a new will, or by writing a declaration of revocation.

These recommendations aim to bring certainty, predictability and accessibility to the law, while embracing technological advancements and maintaining the integrity and security of the testamentary process.

For more information, view the full Report.