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Friday, March 20, 2020

Pandemic causes many to update their wills

A number of factors have conspired to make Canadians more aware of the need for wills, and for health care directives that deal with end-of-life decisions. Those factors are the terrifying news of people falling victim to the COVID-19 virus all over the world, and more free time as many people are off work.

This was the subject of an article in the Glove and Mail recently. Click here to read it. They report that there is an increase in the number of Canadians looking for those documents.

We've seen an uptick here in our office, but it's not a surge by any means. This may be because at the time of my writing this post there are only 4 cases in our province and no deaths, compared to much more frightening statistics west of us. It's not as serious here yet as it already is for our fellow Canadians in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta.

I've spoken with a number of people this week who have said that they've been meaning to get their wills done for years but just never seem to find the time. Now that they are off work, they can take care of things on their "to do" list. Others say that they are taking care of this now because "you never know what will happen".

We decided to stay open during this crisis in large part because we are in the business of making wills. This is exactly the time that people need us. As the Globe article discusses, we are doing a lot of meetings by way of telephone. Wills law requires that wills are signed with two people in the presence of the testator to act as witnesses, so we are still holding those meetings. We deal with that by using the biggest table we could find in the biggest room we have, creating lots of distance between everyone. That's just one of several steps we have taken to protect our clients and ourselves. In one case today, I talked a testator and their witnesses through the signing process on the phone.

Having your will prepared almost always brings peace of mind, even when there isn't a pandemic to stress over. Having a healthcare directive brings the same kind of reassurance. It's a grim sort of thing in a way, but it's a realistic and practical response to our world right now. At least if the worst happens, you've done all you can to prepare. Having your will prepared or updated is not panic; it's an orderly and logical step.


  1. The issues you’ve raised in this blog are very real. People usually hesitate to write on such topics

    1. Yes, I think people do hesitate to write about them. I don't blame them. I've had to learn how to discuss these important issues and documents without scaring or upsetting people. And that isn't easy when there's an actual global health crisis going on.



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