Posted: January 22, 2020

In Alberta, most people have to be 18 years of age to write a will. There are a variety of exceptions to this rule, for example, if you a minor has a child or is a member of the military then you may be able to write a will while you are a minor. However, by and large, most minors are unable to create a will in Alberta until their 18th birthday.

Should your child write a will when they turn 18?

Like so many things in life, the answer depends on your child circumstances. Some reasons to have your child write a will include:

  1.  Do they have property? For example, did they inherit money from a grandparent?
  2. Are they estranged from a parent or sibling and want to make sure this person doesn’t inherit property if they die?
  3. Have they moved in with a girlfriend or boyfriend and want to make sure that these people do/do not inherit money if they die?
  4. Do they owe money to people and need to deal with these debts if they die?
  5. Do they have an illness or a risky occupation or hobby that makes them more at risk for death?

In our experience, most 18 year-olds don’t require wills because they do not have property and in most cases, they are still dependent on their parents. However, if any of the above questions apply to your child we may want to meet with them to write their will.

The most important documents that your 18-year-old will need is an Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Care Directive. Young adults have a greater likelihood of being injured and disabled than dying. If your child is injured loved ones will need an enduring power of attorney to quickly access their bank account, pay their taxes or make a WCB claim. Your child also may want a personal care directive so that they can control which family member can make medical decisions for them if they can’t express their wishes.

Our office recently had a file where a 19-year-old boy had been injured and was in critical condition.  The boy’s parents were divorced for several years. The child lived with the mother and the father had not been paying support or making contact with the boy for many years. When the father learned of the son’s illness, he became interested in the well being of the son and wanted input into his care even though he had not to seen him for 2 years. Unfortunately, the mother had to deal with her ex-husband’s request to have input into the son’s medical care. It was terribly stressful on her and this situation could have been avoided if her son had written a personal care directive. This document is provided free of charge to all Albertan’s on the this Office of the Public Trustee Website: Alberta Personal Care Directive.

If you know of a young adult who should consider writing a Personal Care Directive encourage them to contact our office to discuss their situation. Let them know we are here to help.