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COVID-19 prompts more people to make wills
VANCOUVER -- No one likes to think about dying, but as grim as it sounds, COVID-19 has many people doing just that. Estate planning, which is typically something many people put off, is now top of mind.
Just ask Robin Farrell of Victoria. Last May her dad Paul passed away and fortunately, she says, he had a will, which was a huge relief for the family he left behind. Since then, Farrell has been thinking about getting her own affairs in order but it wasn’t until COVID-19 hit that she took action.
“Knock on wood. We all hope that we’re not going to get it, and this will be as contained as possible and will go away as soon as it possibly can,” Farrell said.
In the second week of April, she says, she went online and bought an estate planning package to get it all done.
“It was awesome. It honestly took me 10 minutes to make my will,” she said.
Prior to COVID-19, online estate planning website Willful said surveys showed more than half of Canadians -- 57 per cent -- did not have a will. In B.C., 62 per cent surveyed hadn’t had one done. But that's changing.
“We’ve seen our business increase about 600 per cent from the beginning of March to the beginning of April in Vancouver and the rest of B.C., which is obviously a huge jump for us,” said Erin Bury, CEO of Willful.co.
Bury said many of those making wills have been frontline health-care workers, and the company is now offering them free estate planning packages. So far, Bury says 1,500 have signed up.
Willful offers various packages from basic to premium, starting at $99 and going up to $249.
Another online estate planning website, LegalWills.ca, said it's also seeing and increase in interest. It did four times as much business in March compared to the same time last year, starting in the second week of March.
"April has been our busiest month in our 20 years of offering our services, by some margin," Tim Hewson, President of LegalWills.ca, said in an email to CTV News.
Typically, you should have a will in order to disperse your estate they way you want, a representation agreement in case you get seriously ill and can’t make medical decisions, and a power of attorney designated to handle your affairs in case you become incapacitated.
In B.C., a will needs to be printed and signed by two witnesses, who need to see one another sign it.
Farrell says she’s still working and was able to get two co-workers, practicing distancing, to help her to complete it.
Online wills can work for some, but if you have more complicated estate planning or need more expert advice you may want to consult a lawyer who specializes in the area.
But for Farrell, the online site gave her everything she needed.
“Now that’s all done, I just feel like it’s a weight off my shoulders,” she said.