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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

New survey shows 74% of Canadians don't have an up-to-date will

Recently I was contacted by the folks over at www.legalwills.ca to let me know about the results of a survey they had conducted. Their results are, in fact, really interesting. They report that 74% of Canadians don't have up-to-date wills. This is quite a bit higher than is generally thought, since most studies and surveys conclude that the number of will-less Canadians is around 50%. The difference in this survey is that they asked not just whether people have a will, but whether their wills are up to date.

If you'd like to check out their survey and their analysis of the results (they correlate the wills to the age and income of the respondents), click here.

This company is an online will-writing service that uses software to create an interactive experience that results in the customer having a new will. Here is one of the statements made in their report:
"The service at LegalWills.ca uses the exact same software used by estate planning lawyers across Canada. So the final product is usually word-for-word identical to a Will produced by a law office."

I would just like to point out that lawyers like me, lawyers who specialize in wills, DO NOT use software to create wills. We just don't. We don't need to, or want to. If you get a will from a lawyer that is word-for-word like a will produced by software, then sure, you might as well just go right to the software yourself. But if you want legal advice, ideas, suggestions, or clarification, then go to a lawyer who specializes in will planning and believe me, it will not be anything like a document you do yourself.

For example, yesterday I met with a client who had already made his will and wanted to check it over. He left his RRSP to his son. He left a small life insurance policy to his daughter.. He wanted the rest of his estate - vehicles, motorcycle, bank account - to be cashed and used to top up his daughter's share to equalize with her brother. I pointed out to him that his estate would have a $75,000 tax bill because of the RRSP so there'd be nothing left to top up the daughter's share. In other words, there was legal information he needed that he didn't know he needed, until he asked a lawyer.

He could have used software to create the will he wanted, and it would cost him less than talking to me, but by talking to me he was advised about his situation and had a chance to fix it.

And seriously, not every lawyer charges an "egregious" fee for services, as this article claims. I'm told daily by my clients that my bills are less than half of what they are quoted by others.

So shop around for expertise and for prices before deciding where to spend your will-planning money. If you want legal advice, you need a lawyer.

2 comments:

  1. I read your article about contesting a will and also think it would apply to the current article above if people read the comments.

    As sometimes beneficiaries might receive different amounts in a will and might not be a 50/50 split.

    I ask the questions below because there is no how to find a good lawyer except googling and
    if anyone has recommendations.

    And I think this is one of the many instances where a diy will is not a good idea at all.
    As well as many lawyers list so many areas they deal with so the video question below is also pertinent in case such lawyer isn't the best
    in the will/estate field

    I'm hailing from Ontario, whereas from your blog you're in Newfoundland & Labrador. I
    know law varies from province to province but I'm sure majority of your information and expertise would still apply.


    My Dad passed a couple years ago now my mom wants to make a new will between my brother and I.

    My brother being a lot older (14 years), owns his own business, has a house and assets. Married but currently in the process of divorce

    Me still finding my footing in a fledgling career, and still living with my mom.

    Anyways my mom (and my dad before passing) wanted to leave the house to me and split the rest of the assets 50/50 among me and my brother.

    So my question is if the will my mom is making is to be contested in the future based on the 3 major areas listed below from your earlier article

    - undue influence
    - lack of mental capacity
    - problems with the will document itself, such as improper witnessing, lack of signature, other formalities not observed.

    Even though contesting a will leaves the burden of proof on the one contesting it; is there additional efforts that can be done to quell
    that.

    For instance taking a video where my mother states in plain words what she leaves behind to her sons and that she states she is of sound
    mind and not influenced in any way before signing the will on camera.

    Would that not help to keep my mothers wishes as stated in the will to be done as is.

    Also would the witnesses chosen to witness the will signing, would they also provide testimony if the will is ever contested.

    So witnesses should be chosen that can be found easily should it arise that they need to testify.

    I also would like to know how relevant the video would be if say for instance if both of the
    witnesses to will signing are lord forbid no longer around.

    How much on average should a lawyer charge for this setup?

    Thank you for all your time and effort you put into this blog, it helps us average Canadians. And hopefully will demystify this process so more will get it done or updated.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My Father died intestate. I hired a lawyer to handle the paperwork required to name me as administrator and to move the estate through probate. I am not in the same city as the lawyers and have not met the lawyers. So far I have been happy with the lawyers patience and the progress. The lawyer has sent me a document to sign which directs the bank to transfer all assess to a trust in my father's name and under the lawyers control. The understanding is that the lawyer will distribute the estate. I had not anticipated this however I am not opposed. My concern, as I have never met the lawyer, is that this is safe. Does the fact that this is a trust protect the assets? Is this an unusual request? There are a few oddities. I do not have a written agreement - only verbal (outlining fees, etc), although I requested one. The lawyer has not verified my identity beyond a photocopy of a passport.

    ReplyDelete

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