British Columbia Marks Make a Will Week as it Prepares to Be First Province to Allow Digital Wills

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Study commissioned by Willful shows 1 in 2 BC residents without a will would complete it online

Make a Will Week is October 4-10 in British Columbia, and the annual event organized by the provincial government encourages the creation or updating of wills. It comes at a pertinent time for those looking to create their will, as COVID-19 led to increased demand for emergency planning and spurred new provincial legislation that will allow for electronic signing and online storing of wills. According to research commissioned by online estate planning platform Willful, only 38% of British Columbians have an up-to-date will, and 90% of millennials don’t have a will. Willful has released a new guide to digital wills for British Columbians to prepare them for these upcoming changes.

“Digital wills are coming, and BC residents are ready - in fact the majority of residents already think signing and storing a will online are legal. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for digital processes across all industries, and BC is the first province to adopt innovative legislation to make it easier for residents to complete their will fully online,” said Erin Bury, CEO of online estate planning platform, Willful. “The pandemic has caused 60% of British Columbians to think more about emergency preparedness, and we anticipate that number to grow as the pandemic continues. We’re excited to educate residents about how they can prepare themselves for digital wills.”

Creating a will in BC has always included offline elements, since paper copies of wills have to be signed and witnessed in person and stored offline. When COVID-19 hit in early March, several provinces including BC passed temporary orders allowing for virtual witnessing of wills via video conferencing tools. BC is the first province in Canada to table permanent digital will legislation. Bill 21, formally titled the Wills, Estates and Succession Amendment Act, amends existing wills and estates legislation to allow for electronic signing, permanent virtual witnessing, and storing of wills online. Bill 21 received Royal Assent in August, and it is expected to come into effect in late 2020 or early 2021.

COVID-19 led to an increase in demand for emergency planning, and Willful conducted an Angus Reid survey to see how the pandemic has changed behaviours and further pushed residents to think about estate planning.

The survey results highlighted:

  • 89% of British Columbians think it is already legal to sign your will online in Canada
  • 92% of British Columbians think it is already legal to store your will online in Canada
  • 23% of British Columbians (1 in 4) think you should be able to digitally sign your will
  • 53% of British Columbians without a will would complete their will if they could do it online
  • 46% of British Columbians said the ability to complete, sign, and store important documents online would make their life easier
  • 48% of British Columbians said COVID-19 made them more likely to complete important documents or tasks online
  • 42% of British Columbians said being able to complete your will online during COVID-19 would make it more accessible for seniors

One Willful customer attests to the value of proper family planning. “When my mom passed away a few years ago, one of the greatest gifts she left my sisters and I was an up to date will,” said Jerrid Grimm, the Vancouver-based founder of PressBoard and Willful customer. “It may seem trivial but it truly allowed our family to spend our time remembering her, instead of worrying about what to do with her funeral and estate. That experience compelled my wife and I to complete our own wills on Willful. It only took a few minutes but I know from experience what a relief it will be to those that we love.”

For more information on Make a Will Week, please visit: http://www.willful.co/bill21

About Willful
Willful is on a mission to change the way Canadians prepare for and deal with death. The company's first product is an online platform that makes it affordable, convenient, and easy for Canadians to create a legal will online. The platform provides simplified estate planning services (creation of a Legal Will, Representation Agreement, and Enduring Power of Attorney), enabling consumers to create a will and/or power of attorney by following a clear step-by-step process. Willful’s platform was developed in collaboration with leading estate lawyers, and has pricing plans starting at $99. Willful is currently available to residents of Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Manitoba, and it has helped Canadians create over 35,000 documents since launching in 2017.

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Erin Bury, CEO
Willful
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