Well it’s finally 2021 —  a brand new year, a new chapter, a clean slate, the next episode — you get the idea. 2020 was definitely a challenging year and it may be tempting to let the last year fade in our rearview mirrors. However, for many of us, 2020 was also a year of growth and there are many learnings that we should take with us into the New Year. 

To kick off 2021, here are some unexpected things we learned last year (in no particular order).

1. Expect the unexpected 

Let’s just say that 365 days ago, we could not have anticipated where we are today. We can never expect everything that life throws at us, but expecting there to be a plot twist, can go a long way in ensuring you’re protected in the event of an emergency. Some things you can do to protect yourself from the unexpected in 2021 include:

2. We can accomplish a lot at home

Working from home, working out from home, making wills at home — 2020 taught us that there is a surprisingly large number of things that we can accomplish from the comfort of our homes. This at-home shift may not be preferable for everyone, but it’s pretty awesome how quickly the world was able to adapt to the new normal.

3. We can accomplish even more thanks to the internet

Honestly, the internet was probably the MVP of last year - making it possible for us to accomplish many of these things at home. From virtual get togethers to virtual witnessing of wills, technology made it possible for us to stay connected through what can only be described as a crazy time. 

While the internet and technology is definitely new, it’s definitely helped make virtual and digital living a bigger part of our everyday lives. That being said, there are still many improvements that can be made to helping Canadians accomplish important life tasks virtually, which is why in 2020, Willful petitioned to modernize estate planning and supported digital will legislation such as BC’s Bill 21.

4. You can never be too prepared

And by that, we don’t mean stocking up on a year’s worth of toilet paper. What we mean is that 2020 taught us the importance of being financially savvy, and making sure you’ve taken the steps necessary to protect yourself from the unexpected. Whether it’s preparing an emergency fund or making a will, it may seem unnecessary at the time, but going that extra mile will bring you extra peace of mind that you’re ready to tackle anything. 

5. Pets made excellent at-home companions

The best virtual meetings this year were 100% the ones with our furry friends. Whether you got to spend more time with your pets this year or you welcomed new ones into your family, they’re a huge part of our lives and it's important we ensure our pets are also covered in emergency situations! We don’t know what 2021 has in store, but we certainly learned that all pet parents should consider pet insurance and making a will to protect their pets this year.

6. We can’t take our loved-ones for granted

Many of us may have just spent our first holidays away from our families and loved-ones. If we learned anything in 2020, it’s that we should (virtually) hold our loved ones a little tighter, and cherish every moment we have with them. 

7. Peace of mind is a form of self-care

2020 was most definitely the year of self-care. Realistically, it was a necessary lesson to learn, in order to cope with the rollercoaster that was the last year. While we can’t control the world around us, treating ourselves to some extra peace of mind, is one of the best ways to deal with a tumultuous situation. By completing your will and power of attorney documents, you’ll certainly feel a sense of relief, knowing that your loved ones are protected in an emergency. Besides, if it’s already on your to-do list. procrastination can be a dark cloud hanging over your head, so check it off your list and let that overcast fade away.

8. Death is inevitable

This one really sucks to say out loud, but unfortunately death is not a what if but a when. The idea of death may never get easier, but there are ways to bring some additional peace of mind knowing your loved-ones are taken care of in the event of your unexpected passing. Not only will estate planning ensure there’s a plan in place, but it provides a blueprint for your family to follow at a time when grief can make decision making highly emotional.

9. Charitable giving is more important than ever

Supporting our favourite organizations can go a long way in ensuring that they’re able to continue making an impact on our communities. This year we learned how far our contributions can go in making a difference in the causes close to our hearts.

While donations and charitable giving may not have been in the cards for everyone this year, legacy giving is a great way to give back even after we’re gone. You don’t have to be wealthy to leave a legacy gift, and it provides the means to leave a much larger gift than otherwise possible. Regardless what causes you choose to support, you can leave as much or as little as you want - there is no gift too small to make an impact.

10. Canadians don’t have wills in place (even though they should) 

The 600% increase in traffic here at Willful back in March, showed us that until life gave us a reason  (or a pandemic) to be concerned about dying unexpectedly, estate planning just didn’t make the top of our to-do lists. Unfortunately, over 57% of Canadians don’t have up-to-date wills and if we learned anything in 2020, it’s that we should all be making estate planning a priority.

Make 2021 the year you get your will done. Not sure where to start?  Here’s a Guide To Creating A Last Will and Testament in Canada.