You’re probably thinking, “Talking about wills and death seems like an incredibly morbid social activity. Why would I want to subject anyone else to that?” We totally get it, the topic of wills can be quite scary, but hear us out - we don’t mean that you should gather 20 of your closest friends and all their lawyers. (In fact, in Canada you don’t need a lawyer to make a legally-valid will.)
What we’re talking about is getting a couple of close family members or friends to start having the important conversations about making a will! We promise that bringing some friends and family along on the ride is almost guaranteed to make the process less daunting. Here are a few reasons why:
You can have the important conversations.
The first and most important step in estate planning is having the conversation, yet only 47% of Canadians discuss it with their friends and family. Whether it’s simply talking about getting your will done or consulting with your potential executor, having conversations with your loved ones is key to having a comprehensive estate plan.
Not only will having the conversation ensure that your loved ones are aware of your end-of-life wishes but it can be a catalyst to ensuring you’re familiar with their wishes as well. Not sure where to begin? We suggest starting with open-ended and lighter topics such as:
- What would you like your legacy to be?
- What are some heirlooms you’d love to pass on?
- Do you have a place where you keep your important documents?
While online platforms like Willful, walk you through every step of the process, having open discussions with our family can help you cover all your bases. Perhaps the conversation will spark your memory around the antique necklace you meant to gift to your sister, or maybe you didn’t realize your brother would be happy to be your executor! Talking it out can help you ensure you haven’t accidentally left something out of your will.
Your family and friends will keep you accountable.
Most people tend to benefit from having a motivational partner. Just like waking up early to workout, you’re more likely to get it done if you have someone to keep you accountable and keep you company. Having someone to join you for the will-making ride is a great way to ensure you get the job done.
Consider setting a ‘goal date’ for everyone to complete their documents, so everyone is more inclined to finish their will in a timely manner. Procrastination is one of the top reasons many Canadians have not finished their will, so committing to a timeline is a great way to make sure the process doesn’t drag on. Once you’ve decided on a deadline, make it official and put a reminder in your calendar! Plus, while finishing your will is a reward in and of itself, setting up a (virtual) ‘will completion’ party with your friends and family afterwards is also a fantastic way to celebrate tackling this milestone.
It’s also important to remember that your will is not a one-and-done type document - so feel free to lean on friends and family to remind each other to review your wills at least once a year!
It’s easier and more convenient than you may think.
In 2020, we know it’s not as simple as just inviting everyone over for the afternoon to get together and write your wills, but it’s simpler than you think. Regardless if you choose to finish your will alone, during ‘family-time’ together as a household, or hopping on a video call with some close friends - there are many ways to help your loved ones make a will in no time.
One of the reasons Willful’s Family plan is our top choice for families is because of how easy it is to help all your loved ones complete their documents. By purchasing a Family plan, you’ll save on every plan you purchase and easily be able to invite your family and friends to complete their estate planning documents within 20 minutes and from the comfort of their own homes.
Not sure who should be in charge of purchasing your Family plan? Here are some signs it’s you:
- You’re the responsible one in your family/ group of friends who gets your taxes done early
- You’ve heard one too many family death drama stories (and want to make sure this doesn’t happen to your family)
- You've been an executor before and you don't know how you could have done it without the proper legal documents (or you know the hassle when there hasn't been a legal will)
- You’re likely to become the executor for several family members
- You’re the first one who’s realized the importance of having an up to date will and want to help your loved ones complete their documents as well
Savings tip for friends: Instead of everyone purchasing their own individual Premium plan, grab a Family plan of up to 6 plans, and split the cost!
Friends who sign together, stay together.
Many individuals may also prefer to work on their will alone. That’s totally okay! Your estate documents are personal and it’s always important to take the time to review them carefully to ensure they reflect your wishes. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to loop in some friends once you’re ready.
A legally-valid will requires two witnesses, so getting a group of friends together makes it easy for everyone to get their wills signed and witnessed. Anyone who isn’t a beneficiary can be a witness, and ideally, it should be someone who is able to verify your identity if you happen to pass, often making close friends great options for witnesses.
Depending on where you live, you may not even need to gather in person. Especially with COVID-19 restrictions still in place around the country, many provinces are allowing for virtual witnessing where you can hop on a Zoom call to get those documents signed. If you’re going for the virtual witnessing route, make sure to carefully review your province's requirements to ensure you’re following the most up to date guidelines to avoid any legal issues with your will in the future.
It’s important to note that currently your estate documents must be printed and signed in wet-ink to be legal, so unfortunately, it is not possible to digitally sign your documents just yet.
We’ve also partnered with Notary Pro to help make the process of virtual witnessing as easy as possible. Their experienced team has put in place a Law Society-approved process that is available to Willful customers at a special price.
Once your documents are signed and stored, it’s time to raise a glass and celebrate with some (virtual) cheers!
So yes, wills are a serious and important topic - but there are so many reasons to consider making your will with friends and family. In fact, it may even - dare we say - make creating a will fun!