When online wills can help bridge estate planning gaps

“Online wills are easy to update, and in some cases, there’s no fee to update them,” she says. “When you go on the web and do an online will, the instructions are very clear … You’re guided step by step as you go along.”

For a will to be legal, Hiscock says it needs to have a wet signature, with witnesses present to verify it. She adds that wills cannot be stored online except in BC, which is why it’s especially important to ensure all steps are followed in that jurisdiction.

“These online will services are very simple and cost-effective. The fees for a will typically start at $50, and for a power of attorney, it’s $100 and up,” she says.

Not built for complexity

Like any tool in estate planning, online wills aren’t suitable in all cases. As Hiscock notes, they don’t lend themselves well to clients with more complex situations, which can include business owners, people with multiple real estate holdings, those with assets outside of Canada, blended families, and clients with dependents who have ongoing care needs.

“It’s very common for expatriates to sometimes build up wealth in international brokerages,” she says. “Online wills are not suitable for those situations. … They require an estate lawyer – and in some cases, a specialized estate lawyer – to deal with those complexities.

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