An Angus Reid survey commissioned by Willful found that approximately 1 in 4 Canadians over the age of 55 don’t have a will. We know that making a will can seem complicated, expensive and even uncomfortable but we’re here to give you some good news - making a will online with a platform like Willful is much easier, quicker and more affordable than you might expect. We’ve even had customers say “hey, that was actually kind of fun” after making their will.
We’ve put together this guide to help more seniors in Canada check off this important to-do in less than 20 minutes - whether you’re a digital wiz or digitally-averse.
What Makes A Will Legal In Canada?
The first thing we should mention is that a will has to be made by you in sound mind - unfortunately this means that you can’t pass the task off to someone else. While some of our senior customers who are less comfortable with using technology have found it helpful to have a friend, family member or support worker walk them through the platform or print their documents, it’s important to remember that only you can make the decisions in your will.
So what else makes a will legal?
- You’re over the age of majority in your province
- Your will is a paper hardcopy and signed with ink
- Your will is signed by two witnesses who are both present when you sign and both of whom do not benefit from your estate
No need to memorize these rules, if you choose to create your will with Willful, your documents come with an instructions page outlining how to make it legal and who can and cannot be a witness for you.
Is An Online Will Platform A Good Fit For Me?
Willful is a good fit for people with simple estates (this covers the majority of Canadians). A simple estate means that you: Have property and assets in Canada
- Have a child or children
- Have a pet and want to assign a guardian and/or leave funds for its care
- Want to leave specific gifts (for example, art or jewelry)
- Don’t have any complex “if this, then that” scenarios - meaning you don’t need to create any unique rules for your estate
- You are single, married, legally divorced, or have a common law partner
- You want to create a Power of Attorney to outline what is to happen if you become ill or incapacitated
What Are The Reasons I Should Not Create An Online Will?
If you have a complex estate, an online platform like Willful may not be the best fit for you. A complex estate can mean that:
- You are separated but not legally divorced
- You have complex scenarios that you want to include
- You own assets or property in another country
- You own a business and want to create dual wills
- You want to create a tiered payout structure for beneficiaries
- You need personal legal advice
If you’re not sure if your estate is simple enough, please feel free to give us a call at 1-888-213-0516, send us an email at email@example.com or message us on live chat. We’re more than happy to walk you through what Willful can and cannot do.
Making Key Decisions
Once you’ve signed up for Willful, you’ll begin making key decisions about your estate and choosing the people who will help ensure your wishes are followed. These are some of the key decisions you’ll make in your will:
- Choose your beneficiaries: who do you want to leave specific gifts, or a percentage of your estate to?
- Choose a guardian for your pet: who should take care of your pet if something were to happen to you?
- Choose whether you’d like to leave a legacy gift: is there a charity you’d like to leave a set amount of money or percentage of your estate to? Choose an age of inheritance: if any of your beneficiaries are under the age of majority, what age would you like them to receive their full inheritance?
- Choose a guardian for minor children: if you have a minor child or are the primary guardian for a child, who would you choose to continue raising them if something were to happen to you?
- Choose your final arrangements: what type of ceremony do you want and where should your final resting place be?
- Choose an executor: who is someone that you trust and would do a good job at following your wishes and distributing your estate?
- Choose a power of attorney for personal care: who is someone you trust that will make your medical decisions if you were to become incapacitated due to illness or injury? You’ll be able to outline your wishes around pain treatment and medical plan for them to follow.
- Choose a power of attorney for property: who is someone you trust that will make decisions about your finances and property if you were to become incapacitated due to illness or injury?
- Choose backups: if the person you choose to act as executor, guardian or power of attorney isn’t able to take on the role, who will step in as a backup?
You’ve Made All Of Your Decisions, Now What?
Once you’ve made all of your decisions and finished going through the platform, you’ll need to download and print your documents. Follow the attached instructions page explaining how to sign and witness your documents to make it legal.
After signing and witnessing, store your will in a safe place and let your executor and/or family members know where you’ve stored it. Some safe places to store include:
- A filing cabinet in a home office
- A fire safe and/or waterproof envelope/bag/box
- An accordion filing box with other important key documents
If you choose to create a will online with Willful, you’ll receive a one-time use code to register your will on CanadaWillRegistry.org to help ensure your executor knows where it is - so if they forget or you forget to tell them, your executor can perform a search to find out exactly where it’s located.
Keep your will up-to-date
After signing and storing, you might think your job is done. While it is for now, as time goes on and life changes (you move provinces, a grandchild is born, someone in your will passes away) it’s important to update your will to reflect those changes. You can log back in to your Willful account at any time to make updates for no additional cost. It’s a good idea to check in every year to ensure your will is still up-to-date and make any necessary changes. Just remember to re-print, sign and witness again to make it legal.