Need a Will? Come on down! Choose your best option.

 In Estate Planning

There is no time like a pandemic to get you thinking about your own mortality. As humans, we cannot help it, this is something that we prefer to ignore. Maybe we think that if we start planning or talking about it, that we might prompt it to actually happen. I am here to let you know that by preparing a Will, you will live 7 years longer…..

Just kidding! That statement is as incorrect as stating that if you prepare your Will and estate plan that it will cause you to prematurely pass on. The fact is that one day, we will all face mortality, we all should have a plan even if we want to ignore it.

Over the course of the last two weeks, I have received numerous texts and phone calls from family and friends asking…. “Should I have a Will?” My answer (even pre COVID-19) was always YES. However, this time when I say “yes”, I have been met with a follow up question? “How exactly would I get a Will now?”

Not all is lost in these times of social distancing, there are options, and as of April 7, 2020 there are ways to legally execute these options. Let us go over the “three doors” of Will making in the days of COVID-19.

Door # 1 -Friendly neighborhood lawyer:
Lawyers are still open, they may not be meeting in person with clients, but they are currently still operating. This has changed the process and experience of instructing your wishes for your Will, most lawyers have adapted to technology and will begin with a video conference call. This way they can still verify your identity, ensure that you are you, and they are taking instructions from the correct person while confirming there aren’t any capacity issues or undue influence. Once instructions are taken, they draft the Will, send it to you for review, and once the final version is ready for signature, they set up a video conference call. (See my blog on how to do video conferencing for Wills)

Door # 2 -Hey Siri:
The vast convenience of technology certainly has been the shining super star in a time where most of the population is working from home in their pajamas. It appears that every industry has had a new innovative approach to make our lives easier, and Wills are no exception to these innovations. There are online companies in Canada that you can create your Will through. Canadian Legal Wills (legalwills.ca) is one option that can create your Will for as low as $39.95 (this does not include your Power of Attorney documents) The process is pretty straightforward, you answer a questionnaire and it generates a templated Will. Another company that offers this service is Willful (willful.co) They have a reasonably priced package that creates all three documents for $149.00. Both companies are a great option for you if your estate is quite simple and you find you do not require legal advice. If you think you need the advice of a lawyer because your situation is complex, then you are better suited working with a lawyer.

Door # 3- Knight of the pen:
Another option is that you can always hand write your will. This works if it is an emergency, time is of the essence, and the above suggestions are not options for the particular situation. In Ontario, a Will that is written ENTIRELY by the Will-maker is called a Holograph Will. Holograph Wills do not have to be witnessed by two people, therefore making this an option in a pinch. The requirements to make this a valid Holograph Will are as follows:
1. Wholly in the handwriting of the Will-maker
2. Identifying the document as a Will
3. Revoke the prior Will
4. Appoint an Executor
5. Simple dispositive provisions
6. Executor’s power to sell
7. Date and;
8. Signature
This option of course is not without its risks, try not to use “legalese” that you do not fully understand, you may cause more issues than you intended to. When in doubt, say what you mean….in your own words.

As you can see, you do have options for ensuring that you have your affairs in order for your family. The only question is….which door will you choose?!

Stay healthy, happy and safe

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