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  • John Hodgson

Multiple Wills (also Known as Dual Wills)

1. What Are Multiple Wills?

Multiple Wills (also referred to as Dual Wills) allow a testator to reduce or eliminate Estate Administration Taxes, commonly referred to as “Probate Taxes” by separating their assets into separate “Estates” to be governed by separate Wills. Probate Taxes are charged on the value of the deceased’s estate. Probate tax is approximately 1.5% of the value of estate assets. For more information on Probate Taxes please see the What is Probate post at In theory, there is no limit to the number of Wills an individual can create. In practice, two Wills is usually sufficient to take advantage of the Probate Tax savings.

Probate Taxes are only payable on the value of the assets covered by the Will that is being probated. Some assets require Probate, while others do not. The goal of multiple wills is to include all the assets that require probate in one Will referred to as the “Primary Estate”, all the items that do not require probate are included in the second Will, this would be the testator’s “Secondary Estate”.

1.1 Assets that typically require Probate:

  • Real Estate registered solely in the name of the testator

  • Personal property registered solely in the name of the testator (e.g. cars, boats).

  • Shares of publicly traded companies

  • Investment accounts

  • Bank accounts

1.2 Assets that typically do not require Probate:

  • Personal items and household goods

  • Shares in private corporations and related shareholders’ loans and receivables

  • Assets that are not registered in anyone’s name (e.g. art, jewelry)

2. More Than Two Wills

Some scenarios may require more than two Wills. For example, a testator may own assets in a foreign jurisdiction, each foreign asset could have its own Will. A testator may have as many Wills as necessary to deal with different types of property; however, each Will must be distinctly separate documents that do not conflict with or revoke each other.

3. Other Benefits of Multiple Wills

When Wills are probated in Ontario, they become public record for the whole world to see. By having multiple Wills, a testator is able to maintain a level of privacy with respect to assets owned and the value of those assets held at the time of passing.

In order to determine if Multiple Wills or Dual Wills are right for you, please contact our office to book a free consultation.

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