Succession Law Reform Act requires that a holograph will be wholly in the testator’s own handwriting and signed by the testator. This means that a will that is typed out and then signed only by the testator will not be a valid will. Courts have applied this requirement very strictly to testamentary papers that do not meet the usual requirements of a will. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that the testamentary document represents the authentic last wishes of the testator.
This rule also applies when a handwritten testamentary document refers to another typed document. Although estates law generally allows you to incorporate another document into your will by specifically referring to it (such as a codicil or memorandum), a typewritten document cannot be incorporated by reference into a holograph will. For example, if a handwritten note is found which seems testamentary and it refers to a typewritten document, like an e-mail or Word document, the typewritten document will not form a valid part of the holograph will. This rule applies even where it is absolutely certain that the typed document was made by the testator.
Another important feature of holograph wills is that it must be a “full and final expression of intention as to the disposal of property upon death.” This means that the will must contain provisions which actually dispose of the testator’s property. The requirement that the document be final means that there must not be any indication that the document was intended to be a draft. The person who seeks to have the holograph will declared as a valid will has the onus of proving it was written by the testator and shows a final intention about the distribution of their property.