Thinking about a Last Will and Testament?
You are no doubt familiar with the importance of having a Last Will and Testament, and about how you should have one in place in case something happens to you. If you are among the 51% of Canadians who do not have a Last Will and Testament (as confirmed by a nationwide 2018 Angus-Reid poll), you probably have a laundry list of reasons as to why you just keep putting it off. Among the variety of reasons are as follows: 25% of Canadians think they are too young to have a Last Will and Testament; 23% claim they do not have enough assets to make investing in a Last Will and Testament worthwhile; 8% simply do not want to think about it; 18% cite expensive legal costs; 5% believe that a Will is far too time consuming to fret over and finally, 2% of the respondents do not want to discuss their personal details with a lawyer.
Of those 51% of Canadians who DO have a Last Will and Testament, only 35% have one that is up to date. That means that major changes in people’s lives (i.e. births, deaths, etc.), are not reflected in their Wills. Older Canadians (55 and up) are more likely to have an updated Last Will and Testament (Atlantic Canada being the exception to this). Atlantic Canada is populated with older residents who are far less likely to have a Last Will and Testament in place. In Ontario, a large majority of the population do not have a Last Will and Testament. This is mostly due to the fact that Ontarians are typically younger and therefore, do not think too much about their assets (many are between the ages of 18-24). Older Canadians without a Last Will and Testament also use that same line of reasoning to put off a creating a Will: a perceived lack of valuable assets. The reality is that everyone has something of value to put into their Last Will and Testament, so conducting a thorough inventory of your assets and estate is very important.
British Columbia and Quebec differ from the rest of Canada simply because of the fact that a large majority of people in each of these provinces have a Last Will. In Quebec, at least 58% of the population has a Last Will and Testament. Overall, women across Canada are less likely than men to have a Last Will and Testament in place (46% of women vs. 53% of men). Many female respondents often point to significant legal costs as the major culprit. Men however, are far more likely to cite the discomfort of discussing death as the major reason for putting it off.
Canadians with higher incomes (i.e. $100,000 and above) worry more about keeping an updated Last Will and Testament. Much like people with lower incomes, there is a hesitancy about discussing income, finances, assets, estate plans (and any other personal matters) with a person to whom they are not fully acquainted with (i.e. a lawyer).
The Angus-Reid poll cited that only two in five households in Canada making less than $50,000 have a Will in place.
We have cited several reasons as to why Canadians do not have a Will. If you are among them, you may want to rethink your decision, especially since there are inexpensive alternatives to using a lawyer — FormalWill.ca is one such option.