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Is an online will right for you?
Published Tuesday, June 21, 2016 10:01AM PDT Last Updated Tuesday, June 21, 2016 10:03AM PDT
A new online resource for creating a will could be a cheaper alternative to hiring a lawyer, but some experts caution the service might not be thorough enough.
A survey conducted by Legalwills.ca found that 62 per cent of Canadians don’t have a will and of those who do, 12 per cent have wills that are out of date. The survey was conducted online by Google Consumer Surveys in June 2016 and surveyed 2,000 adults aged 18 and older.
Legalwills.ca creates custom will documents online for about $40. To create an online will, users set up an account, answer a series of questions, and then print the documents. The site promises the entire process will only take about 20 minutes.
Since hiring a lawyer to draft a will can potentially cost more than $1,000, the price is attractive for many people looking for a cheaper alternative.
"We use the same clauses that lawyers use. Your end result in most cases is word for word identical to if you walked into a lawyer's office,” said Legalwills.ca president Tim Hewson.
Despite the cost savings, the Consumers’ Association of Canada doesn’t recommend getting a will online.
“Generally it’s far better to go to a lawyer. There’s no messiness there,” said association president Bruce Cran. “It just doesn’t work as well.”
But Hewson disagrees, saying his site offers wills for more complex situations, such as blended families creating a lifetime trust for a spouse who isn’t the biological parent of a child. The site also does powers of attorney, living wills or representation agreements for medical emergencies and funeral planning.
"We're not for basic, basic, situations anymore,” said Hewson. "We have never once, over 16 years, heard of anybody having an issue with one of our wills going through probate."
But Vancouver estate planning lawyer Richard Bell advises caution when using an online service to create these important documents.
"If you don't delve deep enough you'll often end up with a result that isn't satisfactory,” said Bell.
Even if you use the online service, more complicated wills may still require legal advice. But White Rock resident Frank Bishop used the site to draft his will and is a fan of the process.
“You can always change it later on down the road, but at least you've got something,” he said.