Two Drivers Shaping Will Creation

by Matt Renzoni in June 25th, 2021

After a year filled with uncertainty, many individuals and couples have begun to take actions to create more certainty for their future. Online Will-writing services have boomed this year, as they offer a fast, low-cost alternative to having a lawyer draft a Will. The additional factor bonus of online Wills is that they allow users to create documents from the comfort of their own home.  

Creating a Will has long been grouped in the category of things you should eventually get around to doing, and can often be put off for even years at a time. But given this growing trend in the industry, it’s worth discussing some of the factors that may drive a person to finally check this seemingly complicated, yet very important document off of their to-do list. 

While free Will-writing campaigns serve both the donor and the charity, they still have a long way to go to become the industry standard. With the exception of opportunities like these, there are only a couple factors that move a person from “I should probably get around to writing that Will” to “Okay, I’m definitely getting my Will done this month”. 

Based on research by the Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP), only two things have been shown to drive someone to take action in creating their Will, and both are simpler than you may initially think. 

#1. Major Life Events Involving Birth or Death

This one should be a given, since both are reminders of mortality. After this year though, surely “global pandemic” should be added to the list as another daily reminder of mortality. In times like these though, the reason for the flood of Will-creation is deeply rooted in trying to mitigate the uncertainty in our lives. 

For individuals and couples who already have a Will, a birth or death in the family is also often a time to update a Will. In these cases, making the necessary updates can also become a low priority if the past experience took longer than expected or the testator is looking for a new lawyer or service provider. 

Depending on the nature of a life or death event, there may also be prompts that can add to an individual or couple’s reason to leave a gift for a charity in their Will. For example, a healthcare organization could have provided great care to a parent before they passed away, which can prompt their child to want to support that organization with a gift in their Will. Large gifts can be committed in a Will even without prior donations if a person has a relationship to the organization like this, which was a key finding in the initial research and development for Willfora. 

As humans, we tend to hate uncertainty and have trouble confronting our mortality, so we take necessary measures to prevent uncertainty in our lives. One of the most important questions we take preventative measures on is “What mark do I want to leave on the world after I die?”.  Not only can this question be daunting, it also prevents a lot of individuals and couples from having an up-to-date Will or any Will at all. 

Especially in the case of creating your first Will, it’s not uncommon to feel a supreme sense of discomfort when planning that far into the future. Given the state of affairs in the world today, that may seem like an unknown light at the end of a very dark tunnel. With all this said though, the benefits of having an up-to-date will far outweigh the mental struggle of planning for an uncertain future.

#2. Conversations About Charity Donations in Social Circles

While many people will conduct their own research, most rely heavily on opinions in our social circles when it comes to important issues such as charitable giving. Often, in the process of determining a charity to leave a gift to, individuals and couples seek out opinions from close friends and family members. Driver #1 can even have a spillover effect that prompts conversations on donating to charities. 

These conversations are extremely important in determining the charity that a person will leave a gift to, as it allows individuals and couples to conduct further research on the types of charities that would be deserving of a portion of their estate. This also works in favour of driving more consideration of leaving a gift in a Will if it hadn’t been thought of prior. For example, if you don’t have an up-to-date Will and you haven’t considered leaving a gift to a charity, talking to friends about it and learning why they have left gifts in their Will may drive further consideration. Even conversations about COVID-19 can end up going in this direction, as the virus has made many of us question our own mortality more than ever. 

An additional factor to add in that’s also being aided by social distancing and a lack of what we call “normal weekly activities” in our lives is time. Canadians between the ages of 35 and 50 are considered by the CAGP as the segment most interested in Will-writing, although many wait longer. When you’re in this age range and likely both starting and building a family, creating a Will can be an item on the to-do list that gets deprioritized for years at a time. However, with many people having a lot more free time on their hands due working from home, this can quickly become an item that finally gets checked off the list. 


If you are a charity that wants to superpower your legacy giving program through a Charity Page or Sponsored Charity listing, please contact us to book a demo. 

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