Wills and Estates

Benefits of Having a Will: Considerations for Indigenous Communities


If you are an Indigenous person and live in a community (“reserve”), having a will gives you more control over what happens after you die and makes things easier on your family. 


The rules explained in this article apply to wills and estates of Indigenous people who

  • are registered under the Indian Act,
  • live in an Indigenous community (“reserve”) and
  • are not Inuit, Naskapi, Cree or Métis.

Indigenous people who don’t live in an Indigenous community should refer to the Civil Code of Québec instead of the Indian Act. You can read our articles in our Wills and Estates section to learn more.

You don’t need to have a will, but there are consequences if you die without one. If you are an Indigenous person, are living in a community (“reserve”) when you die and don’t have a will, this is what will happen: 

  • Your property will be distributed to your family members based on what the Indian Act says, not according to your wishes. 
  • Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) will name a person to settle your affairs and distribute your property after you die. 

Having a will gives you more control over what will happen after you die: 

  • You can choose the person you want to settle your affairs (your executor). 
  • You decide who your property will go to. 

notary or lawyer can help you prepare a will. You can also write a will on your own, but you must follow some rules for it to be valid.