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Is an Online Will Right for You?

By Arin Klug

Published November 28, 2022 • 4 Min Read

This article is sponsored by Epilogue.

Lots of people never finish (or even start) making a Will because they expect it to be a time-consuming, intimidating process often involving a consultation with a lawyer and hefty fees. But depending on your situation, creating a valid, legally-binding Will doesn’t have to be onerous. The emergence of online Will platforms like Epilogue, has made it easier and more affordable than ever to make your own Will and protect the people who matter most to you.

What are the benefits of making a Will online?

As we think about how we routinely use technology to do things like shop, book vacations, and order groceries online, the same is now true for making a Will. Through online platforms, the whole process of creating your Will can be completed in as little as 20 minutes and from the comfort of your home. The cost is also quite affordable, as it can be done for under $150.

When is making a Will online a good option?

Online Wills work best for people who don’t have complex circumstances or estate planning needs. They are not an ideal solution in cases where a person’s assets or family situation are more complicated.

For example, when people are married with children, a common estate plan involves leaving all assets to each other (i.e. one spouse leaves everything to the surviving spouse), and then when the second spouse passes away the assets are divided equally between their children. This type of standard estate planning is where an online Will can generally work well.

When a family situation is more complicated, an online Will may not work. An example of a more complicated situation might include a blended family scenario (i.e. a person is married, and has children from a prior relationship), or if someone wants to exclude a child from their Will or give more/less to a particular child.

In more complex situations, people often benefit from the advice that only an experienced estate planning lawyer can provide. The same is true if you have complex assets, specific wishes that require custom clauses in your Will, or you want to do sophisticated tax planning for your business or estate.

How can I make a Will online?

Online Will platforms guide you step-by-step through a series of basic questions about yourself, your family, and your final wishes – including how your assets should be distributed and who will take care of any pets or minor children. Your answers are used to generate a Will that is customized for you.

For a Will to be legally binding, it must be signed in accordance with the rules of the province where you live. An online platform can help you create your Will, but the signing process needs to happen “offline”. A Will is only valid if it is physically signed (in pen) in the presence of two witnesses (British Columbia is the only province that allows a Will to be signed electronically). There is no legal requirement to have a Will drafted, witnessed, or notarized by a lawyer. Once your Will has been properly signed and witnessed, it should be stored somewhere that is safe, but that can be accessed when it’s needed.

Whether you choose to make your Will online or with a lawyer, the most important thing is to make sure you always have an up-to-date Will in place. Online Wills are not right for everyone, but if you don’t have a complicated situation, and you value the affordability and convenience that online platforms can offer, then you may want to consider creating your Will online.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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