Do you have a will in place? If not, what’s the reason? Many Canadians are dissuaded by the cost, not to mention the perceived complexity of creating a will, while others are uncomfortable even broaching the subject of death.
Thankfully, advances in digital technology have made what was once a daunting task much easier. These days, many Canadians are turning to online will companies like Willful, and legalwills.ca, to manage their estate planning needs. Not only is it now possible to create a legal will at a fraction of the cost of going through a lawyer, but you can set up a power of attorney, and make arrangements for end-of-life care.
In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about one of the leading players in the online will space, with my full review of Willful. I’ll also give you some things to consider before creating your own will online.
Willful – a Company on a Mission
Willful has come a long way since their launch in 2017. Part of their early success could be attributed to the fact that they are a very mission-driven company. Founder, Kevin Oulds, started Willful after dealing with the sudden death of a close family member who died without speaking to their spouse about end-of-life burial or funeral wishes. The challenges Kevin and his family faced in the aftermath fueled his desire to make sure others were not faced with a similar situation.
In April 2019, Oulds stepped aside to allow his wife, Erin Bury, to assume leadership of Willful, as it’s new CEO. Oulds is now focused on business development, as the company looks to expand its services across Canada. Currently, Willful is only available to residents of Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia.
Getting Started with Willful
Getting started with Willful is easy. When you arrive at their homepage, there is a button which will allow you to begin the process free of charge. There is no need to pay up front, simply begin by registering an account.
One thing I love about the Willful platform is that you don’t need to complete your will in one sitting. You can save your progress, and come back to finish at a later date. You can also backtrack, and edit any fields you had previously filled out.
Once you’ve registered, you’ll choose the plan that best fits your needs, and get started creating your will. You can track your progress on the left-hand side of the screen, where you’ll find a full list of the pages you’ll need to complete.
How Much Does Willful Cost?
As I mentioned earlier, online wills are a more affordable option than having a lawyer complete your will. Depending on your needs, you can save between $200-$850 creating a will through Willful. The thing I love about their pricing is its simplicity. No hidden fees, just three distinct plans and no complex add-ons. Let’s take a closer look.
The Essentials Plan – $99
For $99, you can create a will for yourself, that will include instructions on how your executor should handle all aspects of your estate, including the care for any minor children, as well as your final wishes. You can even specify how you’ll want your pets to be cared for after you’re gone.
The Premium Plan – $149
With the Premium Plan, you get everything from the Essentials Plan, and more. This includes a Power Of Attorney document, which allows you to make decisions on what should happen in the event of an emergency.
The Couples Plan – $249
The couples plan is just as it sounds. You get a mirrored will and testament, as well as a power of attorney, for both you and your spouse. If you and your spouse have very different wishes for beneficiaries or distribution of assets, you should each create a premium plan.
What Makes Willful Great
You know what they say, cost isn’t everything. Willful offers a number of features that make them a top choice amongst Canadian online legal will providers. Let’s take a look at some of the things that make them great.
Transparent, All-In Pricing
As I pointed out above, Willful products come in three sizes, at three, simple price points. There are no complicated add-ons, coupons, or discounts, although the more comprehensive plans are a better value. With one glance, I know which plan is right for me.
Unlimited, Free Updates
At the time of this writing, Willful offers unlimited free updates. This is an incredibly flexible option, definitely something no lawyer can match.
Modern Design & User Experience
With Willful, creating a will is as intuitive as completing your taxes online, through leading apps, such as TurboTax. Their guided questions will take you through the entire process in a matter of minutes, with all of the hard work done behind the scenes.
Comprehensive Resource Centre
On their website, Willful includes a comprehensive learning centre, filled with tutorials designed to teach you everything you’ll need to know about estate planning. You’ll learn about the role of the executor, what a power of attorney document is used for, and how to choose a witness for your will. It’s legal wills 101, in essence.
Excellent Customer Service
Willful places the customer experience at the forefront, by offering online chat functionality, and prioritizing quick response times.
An Important Tip on Creating an Online Will
When you create an online will, it’s important to remember that it’s not valid if you don’t print a hard copy, sign it, and have it signed by two third-party witnesses that are present at the time of signing and will not benefit from your estate. Also, remember to store your will in a secure place, where your executor will have access. Ideally, this would be in a safety deposit box at your bank, or in a locked, fireproof safe.
Willful vs. legalwills.ca
A review of Willful wouldn’t be complete without a comparison to its primary competitor, legalwills.ca. For a more detailed look, you can check out my recent post about online wills in Canada, where I’ve listed several of the features and benefits of both companies. That said, here are a few of the key differences between the two.
While both companies offer a comprehensive online platform, to me, the Willful website looks and feels more modern. That may be due to the fact that they were built from the ground up, as recently as 2017. Creating a will through Willful is as easy and seamless as the company claims it to be. In fact, it’s similar to the experience offered by leading tax return applications, like TurboTax. It uses guided questions to lead you through the entire process and does most of the heavy lifting behind the scenes. A definite leg up for Willful, when it comes to user experience.
As I explained above, Willful pricing is simple and transparent, with three plans designed to meet the needs of most individuals and families. The essentials plan begins at $99, while the couples plan, which includes a will and testament, as well as a power of attorney for two people, tops out at $249.
Legalwills.ca is the more affordable of the two, with a basic will starting at $39, and a full plan for couples priced at $144. What I dislike about their pricing, however, is its complexity. It feels more a la carte, which makes it appear less transparent.
Currently, this is the one area where legalwills.ca holds a distinct advantage, in that they are available across Canada. Willful is currently only available to residents of Ontario, Alberta, and BC. That said, Willful has told me they plan to launch in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan later in June, and Manitoba and New Brunswick in July.
Willful is my top choice for making your own will in Canada. That is, if you live in an available province. Their pricing is a bit more expensive than legalwills.ca, but you’ll benefit from a superior user experience while appreciating the simplicity of their three price plans. If you live elsewhere in Canada, you can have confidence knowing that legalwills.ca is a viable competitor and a great second choice in my books.
Things to Consider
It’s important to note that online wills aren’t for everyone. While you will pay more to complete your will through a lawyer, there is no replacement for the expertise they can provide.
For consumers with a more complex estate, which may include the ownership of foreign, or investment property, blended families, situations where there is a conflict between heirs or the ownership of corporations, my recommendation would be to pay for a lawyer, to ensure complex estate matters are fully addressed.
That said, for most Canadians, the simplicity of an online will is a perfectly viable option, offering both affordability and ease of use. So, if you haven’t yet made a will, or yours is in dire need of an update, I highly recommend Willful. Check them out today!