Financial Literacy

Are Canadian Will Kits or Online Wills Worth It?

Are Canadian Will Kits or Online Wills Worth It?

Allow me to start off by sharing a rather inconvenient truth; that is, at some point in the future, we are all going to die. I know, this isn’t something any of us want to think about, let alone discuss. But when it comes to personal finances, death is an eventuality that we all need to be prepared for.

Unfortunately, not enough Canadians are taking the necessary steps to ensure that they are the ones deciding what happens to their estate when they pass on. The best way to do this is to create a legal will.

In this article, we’ll examine an increasingly popular method of will preparation – doing it yourself using either a blank form will kit, or an online will kit service, such as Willful, or Legalwills.ca. But first, let’s take a closer look at why you need a will in the first place.

Do You Have A Will?

If you can answer yes to this question, you’re in the minority. Recently, the Angus Reid Institute conducted a poll on wills in Canada, with some startling results. Over 50% of adult Canadians do not have a will at all, while the number is closer to 90% for Canadians under the age of 35.

Canadians list several reasons why they don’t have a will, including feeling as though they are too young, don’t have enough assets to warrant making a will, or that they are simply too uncomfortable in dealing with the entire subject.

The Benefits Of Making A Will

Here are a few reasons why you should consider making a will:

  • It ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes
  • Makes it easier for your family when you die, by saving time and reducing stress
  • Gives parents control over deciding how minor children will be cared for
  • Without a will, decisions will be based on law, perhaps contrary to your wishes
  • A will provides clarity to your family and can help prevent conflict
  • Makes it easier to include beneficiaries that may be outside of the family

The Problem With Blank Form Will Kits

Now that we’ve established why having a will is so important, let’s take a look at a do-it-yourself solution that’s been around for years, but is inherently problematic – the blank form will kit.

You can find blank form will kits at popular stores that sell stationary, like Staples, for example. The appeal to these kits lies in their affordability. When faced with the prospect of paying a lawyer $500 or more to make your will, a $20 blank form will kit can seem like the perfect solution. Of course, they also advertise that they are 100% legal, creating the perception that they will stand up if challenged in court. Here are a few reasons to steer clear of blank form will kits.

They are Too Simple

Blank form will kits are usually only a couple of pages long, and are not designed to accommodate anything that is non-standard. If it’s as simple as granting 100% of your estate to your significant other, they may work, but what if that person passes away before you, or you have minor children, and you want to make sure they receive the proper care after you’re gone.

They are Too Confusing

You may be wondering, if blank form will kits are so simple, how can they be confusing? That’s because there is very little instruction provided. What you’ll get is a generic form with lots of blank spaces to fill in, without any solid advice on how to properly complete the document.

They are Easily Challenged in Court

While it’s true that a blank form will kit may be considered legal if it’s been signed and witnessed properly, that doesn’t mean it won’t be challenged in court. Without clear instructions, errors are far more common. Because of this, blank form wills are often successfully challenged in court, by family members who may interpret your wishes differently than you intended.

The Pros And Cons Of Online Will Kits

Online will kits offer affordable estate planning while solving many of the problems of store-bought, blank form will kits. Using interactive software, they are able to go more in depth and provide a user experience that is comparable to that of tax software companies. They guide the consumer through a series of questions, leading to an outcome that is more accurate and customized to the individual.

Another advantage is their product offering, which extends beyond basic will preparation. For an additional fee, you can add a power of attorney document, as well as a living will, which expresses one’s desires for medical treatment, should they become incapacitated, and unable to make decisions for themselves.

If there’s a downside to using an online will kit, it would be the lack of legal advice required for complex estates. For example, if you have a very high net worth, own property outside of Canada, or a large business, you’ll definitely want to see a lawyer to complete your will. But for most Canadians, whose estate needs are more simple, an online will kit is an option worth considering.

Willful Review – Best For User Experience

Willful Wills has been around since 2017. They offer estate solutions at three separate tiers, with straightforward pricing that is easy to understand. For $99, the Essentials Plan will provide you with a last will and testament, enabling you to establish who your estate representative will be, your instruction for the care of minor children, and your wishes for your funeral. The Premium Plan is $150 and includes a power of attorney. For $250, the Couple’s Plan will allow your spouse to complete the same documents.

One of the things I like most about Willful is their user experience. Their website is visually appealing and intuitive. It’s similar to most leading tax software applications, like TurboTax. If you enjoy using those platforms, then you’ll appreciate Willful. The downside is that they aren’t available in every area of Canada. Currently, only residents of BC, Ontario, and Alberta have access to their products. In time, they plan to expand to other provinces.

Features

  • Transparent, all-in-one pricing
  • 3 Plans: Essentials, Premium & Couples, $99/$150/$250
  • Unlimited, free updates
  • Class-leading user experience
  • Currently available in BC, Ontario, and Alberta
  • Service experience includes a live-chat and quick response times

Willful Promo Code

Thanks to Willful, who provided MapleMoney readers with a promo code to get a discount if you decide to use them. Click here and since you start for free, remember when you decide to go forward, enter promo code MAPLEMONEY to get 15% off your purchase!

Canadian Legal Wills – Best For Affordability

Legalwills.ca has been providing Canadians with online estate planning products for almost 20 years, a fact which lends to their credibility in the industry. That said, their top selling point is affordability. With Legalwills.ca, you can receive a last will and testament for as little as $39.95, while a couple’s package that includes a will, and power of attorney for you and your spouse, is only $144.

Another thing I like about Legalwills.ca is that they’re available across Canada. What I don’t like so much is the complexity of their pricing. It’s not as straightforward as Willful Wills, so you need to do the math, to make sure you’re paying for what you need. Their user experience isn’t quite as slick, either. Perhaps that’s because their site has been around longer, and thus, isn’t as fresh. Still, they are a solid option.

Features

  • Longstanding player, established in 2000
  • Available across Canada
  • Affordable pricing begins at $39.95
  • 40% discount on a second will for a spouse/partner
  • A full estate plan for a couple costs $144
  • List belongings, digital assets, and contacts using Life Locker

LegalWills.ca Reference Code

Canadian Legal Wills has also given MapleMoney readers 15% off by clicking this link, which will automatically apply our reference code of a917465391.

Our Top Choice For Doing A Canadian Will Online

If you live in BC, Ontario, or Alberta, Willful is our top pick for Canadian online will kit. Although they are slightly more expensive than Legalwills.ca, their modern platform, and live-chat customer service give them the edge. That said, if you reside elsewhere in Canada, where Willful isn’t available, then Legalwills.ca is a solid choice. You’ll benefit from their affordable pricing and experience in the market.

Should I Use An Online Will Kit?

The purpose of this article was to present online will kits as a viable, not to mention affordable, option for Canadians. I hope I’ve busted a few myths along the way, and also sounded the warning on the blank form will kits, which are severely flawed, to put it mildly.

One note of caution, however. There is no substitute for expert legal advice, and an online will kit isn’t for everyone. If for any reason, you have a complex estate, a lawyer-prepared last will and testament are well worth the expense. But for most Canadians, an online will kit is a great way to ensure your estate planning is looked after.

Comments

  1. Evelinn

    Great article with good information and recommendations for simple will kits.
    Thank you !

  2. Altamira Santacruz

    My husband and I had the 2 documents (Last Will and Testament, Continuing P. of. A. for Property) made for each of us through Legal Wills about 4 years ago. We had to provide our bank with those documents. The bank took its time to examine them and they were fully accepted. The service we got from Legal Wills was EXCELLENT. I really recommend them for simple situations like ours.

  3. Tim Hewson

    Nice article Tom, and thank you for including LegalWills.ca. Although we never like to be considered a second best option, you have given us some things to think about. Our pricing is on a per document basis, rather than by package, with all documents being 40 percent discounted for the second account. Maybe we need to clean this up a bit.

    I concede that our interface isn’t quite as “drag and drop” as Willful, but this is perhaps because we offer a number of additional features; we have more flexibility in a distribution plan, we include lifetime interest trusts, our minor trusts have more flexibility, as do our pet trusts. We also allow you to cover assets in the US through our Expat Will service.

    We have over 600 five star google reviews and a 4.9 star rating on Facebook.

    But one key advantage is our longevity; as illustrated by the comment from Altamira (thank you for this comment), hundreds if not thousands of our documents have been through probate and have been accepted by the courts and banks. Many people who used our service over a decade ago have subsequently died, and we have never once heard of there being an issue with one of our documents. Being in the business for 18 years means that our documents are tried and tested.

    Thank you again for the review, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any further information about our service.
    Best wishes,
    Tim.

  4. Cheryl

    Do the documents have to be signed in front of a notary? Most notaries want to use their own precedents. Do you know of a notary in Kelowna who would allow these forms to be used?

    • Ann

      I have the same question. who witnesses the will and p.of.a? do i need a notary? or can my bank manager or Bank CS, or my doctor or dentist witness

  5. Anne

    Thank you for this information. My husband and I would have a very straight forward Will to do so I will look into Willful Wills. Good information!

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