In my current round of R-U-P-A meetings with clients (RUPA being, Review-Update-Plan-Attain), I’ve been doing a re-check with each client on when their Will was last done. The range of responses ranges from, “just did it” to, “I’m embarrassed to say, I’ve never in my life had one”.
It’s been several years (over 20), since my own Will has been written. Now, with my 2 sons being well into their 20’s (no dependents) and 3 granddaughters, plus substantially more wealth to pass on than when my Will was last written, it’s definitely time for my own Will re-write.
Several years ago I ran into a perfect storm of a case of someone not having a formal Will. It involved an aged mother, who was the last surviving parent, of two 50 something daughters. This was many years ago, so my memory is a little unclear on the specifics. However, the basics were that the aged mother was nearing death and 1 of her daughters was found out to be in the late stages of a terminal cancer.
The mother passed away. In her Will, all of her assets were to go her 2 daughters. Shortly after the mother’s passing though, the cancer ridden daughter, within a few days of her own passing, quickly did a handwritten Will. This was done literally, on her deathbed.
Before the daughter passed on, there was not enough time to officially change the ownership of the mother’s assets to both daughters. This wasn’t really that big a deal. People who are linked together as such through a Will, have in the past, died near to, or at the same time as, each other. The “wrench” though here, was the handwritten or “holographic” Will. It didn’t meet the requirements by one of the institutions where some investments were held and the additional obstacles they put in place could not be satisfied anymore. We continued push for the money to be released but this bank wouldn’t budge.
In the end, we did finally get things cleaned up but it involved a whole lot of time, effort and aggravation. It took having some 3rd party pressure applied, to finally get the assets to their rightful owners.
As I said, this was the perfect storm and I’m sure, not common. However, I think you how important it is to get your own Will in place, fully.
So why are you procrastinating? I’m guessing it’s probably one of these reasons:
- Naming an Executor; you don’t know who to choose.
- Choosing a Guardian for your child(ren); probably the toughest choice to make.
- Finding a lawyer; then work out a meeting time that will fit with your schedule.
All of these require being intentional about completing each. The most time consuming though is everything related to a lawyer. You have to talk to people on their experiences, call around for costs, do a Google search and then, you have to actually fit another thing into your already busy calendar.
Technology has given rise to lessening hurdle #3 with the solution of online Will drafting, which is the basic foundation of thorough Estate Planning. There are 2 big players here, Willful and LegalWills.
Willful is the simplest from what I can tell. They have 3 packages you can choose from. You start by clicking through a series of questions like “Are you married?” etc.. It will suggest the package you need and what is included in it. The prices range from $99 to $249. I started the questions myself (which was very quick and easy to move through), showing me that I needed the $249 one (no surprise there, really).
LegalWills is the grandfather of the bunch. They operate in Canada, USA and the UK. On top of Wills, they have a menu of other legal documents including Power of Attorney (POA). They claim you can have your Will ready to print out in 20 minutes.
The caveat is neither of these will supply access to a lawyer. However, both services have used lawyers to create the legalese for their templates. The information you provide through the question asking process, simply fills in the blanks. As well, you can update and change your Will anytime you need to. Both services say they will also store your Will however frankly, I think that would be harder to find for your heirs than a hard copy.
If you don’t have a Will, these are 2 simple ways to get some kind of Will done up, right here, RIGHT NOW. When you are finished, you simply print it out, get 2 people to act as Witnesses to your signatures on the Will and you are set, at least for now. Until you get around to setting one up with a lawyer, which I’d recommend. However, you’ll have a lot of the work and thinking done which should cut legal costs.
I’ll leave you 2 videos done by CTV on Wills:
PS. For $20 Off any Will done on Willful use discount code THEWILLFUL20