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Canadians prioritize making end-of-life plans over New Year’s resolutions: survey

Online estate planning company co-led survey on attitudes toward end-of-life planning in 2020

Canadians prioritize making end-of-life plans over New Year’s resolutions: survey
Canadians are making end-of-life plans a priority, says a survey by estate planning company Willful.

About a third, or 34 per cent, of Canadian respondents in a survey has brought up their end-of-life intentions with loved ones, including plans to make or update their will and to decide on their end-of-life wishes, last year.

Willful, a Canadian digital estate planning company, and Arbor Memorial Inc., a Canadian cemetery and funeral provider, partnered on efforts to help Canadians get through these difficult conversations, to destigmatize dialogues about death and to offer accessible end-of-life planning tools.

Willful, which aims to improve the manner that Canadians prepare for death, provides an online platform that enables users to easily, conveniently and affordably create legal wills. Willful offers users a step-by-step process for the creation of legal documents like wills and powers of attorney. While the company is based in Toronto, the digital platform is accessible to those residing in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

While Willful is not a law firm, the development of its platform benefited from collaboration with experienced legal advisors who assisted in designing the application and the template documents. The estate lawyers involved in Willful’s development included Kevin Kelly of Alberta; Sundeep Singh Gill of B.C.; Joel Samphir of Manitoba; John Gillis of New Brunswick; Jessica Kaulback and Sean Kaulback of Nova Scotia; Neil Milton, Hala Tabl and Scott Allison of Ontario; and Shawn Patenaude of Saskatchewan.

As a part of the partnership between Willful and Arbor Memorial, they jointly conducted a survey that explored Canadians’ attitudes toward end-of-life planning in 2020 and toward New Year’s resolutions in 2021.

Of the Canadians surveyed, 83 per cent reported initiating a difficult dialogue last year relating to end-of-life plans, financial plans, eldercare, childcare, relocation and job changes. Over a third, or 37 per cent, of respondents were of the opinion that end-of-life planning would be a priority in the new year, with these plans revolving around making or updating their will, funeral planning or opening difficult conversations with family regarding estate planning.

With respect to New Year’s resolutions, 68 per cent of respondents said that they did not make a resolution this year, while only six per cent of respondents who made New Year’s resolutions in 2020 claimed that they accomplished these resolutions.

Willful said the fact that will creation last New Year’s Eve has more than doubled, with a rise of 240 per cent compared to the previous year, shows that Canadians prioritize end-of-life plans over their New Year’s resolutions.

“We have seen an increased interest in will and estate planning from Canadians since the pandemic hit in March, and while fewer Canadians are setting resolutions, we hope to empower more Canadians to have difficult, but essential conversations with loved ones throughout 2021,” said Erin Bury, chief executive officer at Willful.

“Our survey found that many Canadians aren’t initiating these conversations because they don't know where to begin or what questions to ask,” said Dustin Wright, senior director of marketing communications at Arbor Memorial Inc.

The survey, conducted in English and French from Jan. 4 to 5, collected online responses from a representative sample of 1,503 Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum, an online public opinion community.

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