There are generally three ways to create a will: 1) handwriting a Will, 2) hiring a lawyer or 3) using an online software or app.
Handwriting a will (Holographic Wills), while inefficient, are common enough and often used in emergency situations, such as when the writer, known as the testator, is near death or alone. When drafting your Will, there are many things to think about, such as how the residue of your estate is distributed, powers of Executors and Trustees, substitutes or alternate plans, and plans for minor children and pets. You are prone to introducing errors or missing sections without prior experience, especially when hand-writing your Will. This type of Will has existed in history to reduce the perceived complexity of creating a Will, while removing misinformation that a lawyer is required, or that thousands of dollars need to be spent. Online solutions have now replaced Holographic Wills as a cost-efficient way to create Will, but free from the common errors that occur when hand-writing a Will without prior experience.
Hiring a lawyer is the traditional choice for Wills and estate planning documents, but for the majority of testator’s needs, the added cost and hassle of multiple in-person meetings may not be worth it. The process can seem confusing due to opinionated individuals who may interpret your information differently, or oversell you on services you may not require. People are already busy! If you have children, this whole process becomes even more cumbersome.
Generally, lawyers will request you do a phone consultation with themselves or an assistant. Then you’ll have to visit for an in-person interview, only to go back home and wait five to 14 business days before visiting again to review the draft, which is often prepared by an assistant. At this point if there are errors, especially human-generated errors, you will be asked to go back home and come back another time for the actual signing. This process can take up to 3 or more visits and span over multiple weeks, while costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
If updates are required, which is likely with major life events such as having a child or getting married or divorced, you will have to do this process again and pay additional fees. The main benefit of hiring a lawyer is the personalized advice they can provide you to your specific situation. If you feel your situation is complicated, a consultation with a lawyer is highly recommended.
An Online Will writing service or app is an option many people are not aware is much more affordable and less complex than other options. For the majority of requirements, online apps or software are the most effective way to create a Will or other estate planning documents. These services have existed for nearly 20 years, but public awareness of this type of service has only been booming for the past couple years or so. With the recent pandemic, 2020 was a record year for online Wills in Canada as they offer a reliable and socially distant alternative to hiring a lawyer.
Online apps or software allow you to prepare and review your Will from the comfort of your home. Most services vary in complexity, but there are easy-to-use apps, such as the Free Wills Platform by Willfora, which is the first completely free online Will service that allows any Canadian to create or update their Will while supporting their favourite charities.
An online Wills service is similar in scope to other self-guided tools people may use, such as a tax preparation or robo-advisor service. An online software will guide you through a series of questions, similarly to the interview process a lawyer will conduct, and will auto-generate personalized documents for you based on your input. These documents are generated in the jurisdiction of your residence, such as your province or state, and are likely to be identical to the documents a lawyer will prepare for you, as lawyers often use templated services. Once you review the documents, you download them and sign in front of two witnesses. To ensure you are legally executing your Will, look for a service, such as Willfora, that identifies individuals who cannot act as witnesses.
Willfora is Canada's first completely FREE service to allow anyone to create or update their Will in a secure and simple online format. As a free alternative to hiring a lawyer, Willfora was created in an effort to prompt Canadians to consider leaving a charitable gift to a cause that’s important to them, while potentially saving thousands of dollars in the process. Willfora also offers unlimited updates and easy instructions on how to sign off and store an up-to-date Will.
It’s your Will, and your Legacy. Start today.