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Breaking Down the Costs of An Online Will vs Lawyer

In this article:

    There are a number of benefits to using an online platform to create your will, including the convenience, time, simplicity, and most importantly–the cost. Using an online will platform could save you thousands with comparison to using a lawyer.  

    Online will vs lawyer cost: comparison

    In summary, these are some of the costs to consider when deciding whether to create an online will or a lawyer drafted will. 

    Lawyer-Drafted Will Willful Online Will
    Cost of the will $624-$957* As low as $99
    Cost of making updates Variable, lawyer's hourly rate x # of hours Free
    Cost of transportation Variable $0
    Cost of lost work or other commitments Variable, but possibly prohibitive $0

    *The avg. cost to make a simple will for one person in Canada was $624, and the avg. package price for a will, power of attorney and personal directive documents was $957 in Canada, as reported by Canadian Lawyer's 2021 Legal Fees survey

    What's the difference between an online will platform and a lawyer drafted will?

    We get this question often, and the short answer is, there’s often no difference!

    There are several ways to create a legally-binding will, including: 

    • A holographic, or a handwritten will 
    • A fill-in-the-blank, DIY will kit 
    • A lawyer-drafted will
    • A will made with an online will platform, like Willful

    What makes a will legal is not how it’s made, it’s whether it follows the criteria for a legally valid will in the province or territory where you live. There are some nuances to this criteria that varies by province, but in short, this is the general criteria for a legal will in Canada:

    That’s it! To read more about what makes a will legal in Canada, click here. 

    You’ll notice that the above criteria does not include a lawyer–that’s because a lawyer doesn’t have to create the will for it to be legal. 

    Why wouldn’t I use a lawyer to create my will? 

    There are a few reasons why people choose not to have a lawyer draft their will, including the: 

    • High cost 
    • Increased time 
    • Inconvenience

    The cost of a lawyer 

    Many Canadians have simple estates that don’t require advice from a lawyer for creating their will and estate plans. So for some people, using a lawyer can be overkill and seem like an unnecessary or extra cost. 

    In addition, lawyers typically bill by the half hour or by the hour, so the cost can quickly add up. The same typically applies when you need to update your will–you may need to pay hundreds of dollars every time you need to make a change. (As a reminder, we recommend you review and update your will every 6-12 months, or after any big life change). 

    Willful vs. using a lawyer

    See how much you can save by choosing Willful

    What province do you live in?

    Willful vs. using a lawyer

    Do you want to create a will or a will and power of attorney documents?
    Do you want to create a will or a notarial will?
    Will only

    Will and Powers of Attorney

    Notarial will


    Willful vs. using a lawyer

    Besides yourself, how many additional family members need to create their will?

    Willful vs. using a lawyer

    The time needed to visit a lawyer 

    If you choose to work with a lawyer, you will typically need to make an appointment during their working hours, in their office. Getting to and from the lawyer’s office may be difficult if you live far away, don’t have access to transportation, or have a job or other commitments during the times that they’re available.  Overall, it can be a more time consuming process! 

    The inconvenience of using a lawyer 

    As mentioned, you typically need to visit a lawyer’s office to create your will. In contrast, using an online will platform allows you to create your will from the comfort of your home, and it can be done in just 20 minutes!

    Create your will in 20 minutes now →

    When should a lawyer be used to create a will? 

    Some people have more complex estates so it’s important for these individuals to consult a lawyer, to make sure they have a comprehensive will and estate plan. Some signs that you may need to use a lawyer include: 

    • Your marital status is in flux, such as being separated but not divorced
    • You want to create a Henson trust
    • You want to create any other trust other than a simple testamentary trust
    • You want to create dual wills
    • You want to exclude/disinherit a child, spouse, or family member
    • You want to add custom clauses or complex wishes
    • You want to choose an executor living in another province or country
    • You have assets in various provinces and countries
    • You or your loved one dies abroad

    Estate lawyers are also well-versed in estate taxes, so they may be able to offer suggestions for how to minimize them.

    Cost breakdown of using an online will platform 

    Cost of the will

    Cost of making updates

    • All Willful plans come with free unlimited updates

    Cost breakdown of using a lawyer 

    Cost of the will

    • The cost of making a will with a lawyer will vary based on the lawyer’s fees as well as how many hours it takes for the lawyer to draft the will. To provide a benchmark, the average cost to make a simple will for one person in Canada was $624, as reported by Canadian Lawyer's 2021 Legal Fees survey

    Cost of making updates 

    • The cost of making updates will depend on the lawyer’s fees and how many hours it takes for the lawyer to make the necessary updates–but you will need to pay extra for changes made over time. 

    Cost of transportation 

    • This will depend on where you live and how far you need to travel to get to the lawyer’s office. 

    Cost of lost work or other commitments 

    • Depending on the location of the office and how flexible you are during the work day, this could be prohibitive for some people.

    Making your choice

    How you decide to make your will is your choice, and as we mentioned, it’s not the way you make your will that makes it legally binding, it’s whether it follows the criteria for a legally valid will in your province or territory. 

    And remember–having any kind of will is better than no will at all!

    Looking for other resources? Check out these articles: 

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