Wills, Estates and Trusts

In this guide, you will find information, resources and links for some of the following subjects:

  • Estates
  • Estate litigation
  • Personal directives
  • Powers of attorney
  • Probate
  • Trusts
  • Wills



Executors & Administrators

Powers of Attorney



Forms and Precedents



Case Law

For more information on finding cases see our research guide: Finding and Researching Cases


Canadian Encyclopedic Digest

Canadian encyclopedic digest (C.E.D.) (Western), 4th ed.

 Sections relevant to wills and estate law include: 

  • Executors and Administrators
  • Medical Incapacity (Western)
  • Trusts
  • Wills

Available electronically through: Westlaw Canada

Halsbury's Laws of Canada

Halsbury’s laws of Canada

This multi-volume set includes coverage of Federal, Provincial & Territorial legislation. It explains the legislation and cases which govern wills and estate law issues in every jurisdiction in Canada.

Titles related to wills and estate law include:

Additional information may be found under other topical headings.

Also available electronically through: LexisAdvance Quicklaw


Glossary of Common Terms

Attestation: Witnessing a written instrument and signing it as a witness. 1

Codicil: A written document that makes a change or an addition to the will. It is executed by the testator, in accordance with the same formalities as a will. 2

Holograph Will: A will written completely in the handwriting of the person making it, having no witnesses to the signature of the testator. 3

Intervivos Trust: A trust other than a testamentary trust. Created by writing a deed or oral declaration, a trust which is to take effect during the lifetime of the trust’s creator. 1

Living Will: also referred to as personal directive. An instrument, signed with the formalities statutorily required for a will, by which a person directs that his or her life not be artificially prolonged by extraordinary measures when there is no reasonable expectation of recovery from extreme physical or mental disability. 4

Personal Directive: according to the Personal Directives Act (RSA 2000, c P-6, s 7) “A personal directive may contain information and instructions respecting any personal matter” – while some examples are set out in the Act, the list is not exhaustive.  There are certain requirements that must be met in order to qualify as a personal directive such as being in writing, being dated, signed and witnessed in accordance with the statute.

Probate: The process of “proving” a will. 3   The term has become a term of procedure describing the outcome of the court process wherein Letters Probate are granted verifying that a will has been proven.  In Alberta currently, the Rules of Court provide that an application for a grant of probate may be made (Surrogate Rule 10(1) (a)(i)) and the term Letters Probate is not used. 5

Surrogate Court: The court responsible for the appointment of personal representatives and generally involved with problems arising during the administration of estates. In Alberta it is a division of the King’s Bench. 3

Testamentary Trust: A trust that arises upon and in consequence of the death of an individual. 1

Testate: The act of dying with a will. 2

  1. Daphne Dukelow, The Dictionary of Canadian Law 4th ed. (Toronto: Carswell, 2011)
  2. Jennifer Greenan, The Executor’s Handbook 5th ed.  (Toronto: CCH Canadian Limited, 2015)
  3. Cheryl Gotslieb, Wills for Alberta (North Vancouver : Self-Counsel Press, 1998)
  4. Black’s Law Dictionary 9th ed. (St. Paul, Minnisota : West, 2009)
  5. Alberta Rules of Court, Surrogate Rules, Alberta Regulation 130/95 as amended, Court of King’s Bench Act




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