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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Digital wills vault

There is a new service available that some of you might find interesting. A company called NoticeConnect (yes, the same people who do the online advertising for creditors) has created what it calls the Canada Wills Registry. It's a digital wills vault - a place to register your will so that if someone is looking for it, they have a better chance of finding it.

From what I hear, several thousand people have registered wills there already, even though it's brand new. I also hear that a number of law firms are registering the wills they hold for clients in the hope of making things easier on the families of their clients later on.

Because it's new, I honestly can't say whether it's going to work out as planned. It's too soon to have success stories. If you're interested in learning more, Click here to go to their webpage and learn how it works. I remind everyone that although it's called a Canada registry, it's not affiliated with any government department; it's owned and run by a private company.

Anyone who uses the service, please let the rest of us know how it went.

2 comments:

  1. Lynne, perhaps I misunderstand as the service's website is not clear.

    Is this service intended for a testator or their lawyer to register a will so as to confirm there is an actual will in existence and to also provide after death direction to the testator's family of a will's physical location?

    Since the original will is normally required for probate, it would then seem a digital copy, regardless of where located, would not be considered valid so a paper original will continue to be required.

    While a central wills registry might be beneficial, without mandatory participation by all Canadian or provincial residents with a will, voluntary participation would seem to add a further complication for a testator's remaining family since it becomes another location needing to be searched if a physical will cannot be located.

    As a service offered by a private company, there seems to be little to prevent other companies from offering similar competing services, with the potential of there being a legal responsibility to search many registries following a death. As many Executor's often do not know they are appointed until after the will is located, who then should assume responsibility to perform an initial registry search?

    There is also a potential for one will to be registered in one registry, and for later wills to be registered in other registries. In addition, what if a registry company fails or is sold and their database becomes lost or hacked?

    While I prefer minimal government intrusion in my life, this maybe a situation where government development and administration of a mandatory central wills depository would be more appropriate and useful.

    One central depository would provide a single secure standard location in which to search for and obtain every testator's will document, by anyone with an interest in that estate.

    By recording each will when deposited, there would be less likelihood of multiple wills and also, less potential for a family member to discard a will which they may not like.

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    Replies
    1. Mark, I agree with each and every one of your comments. I particularly worry about the fact that a private company can fold, be sold, etc and people will have no idea who has access to their information.

      One other thing I might add is that during the time I've been working in the wills industry, there have been at least two or three previous attempts by private companies to set up digital wills vaults. All previous attempts that I know about failed because not enough people bought into the idea of sharing their personal information online. My guess is that this particular company is banking on the fact that these days, people are more comfortable doing things online than before and won't be so hesitant to sign up. I guess we'll see. I agree that if there is to be a registry, it should be permanent, not owned by a private company, and should be subject to regulations.

      I'm not sold on it, to be honest. But, as with all news in the wills and estates industry, I want the readers to know what's out there.

      Lynne

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