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



Last revised June 11, 2024

Executors & Administrators

Last revised May 16, 2024

Powers of Attorney

Last revised July 27, 2023


Last revised May 16, 2024


Last revised Aug. 31, 2023

Forms and Precedents



Last revised May 16, 2024

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




Additional full-text articles are available electronically through:





Last revised Jan. 12, 2023

Disclaimer: As law librarians, we are pleased to provide you this resource for information and research purposes only – It is not a substitute for professional legal advice. We strive to bring you quality and current information in this resource, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, accessibility, adequacy, or completeness of the information presented here. The sources featured are selected based on professional assessment and opinion, and do not constitute an endorsement, editorial, review, or guarantee.