Wills and Estate Planning: Opportunities for Canadian Legal Professionals

Current State of Wills and Estate Planning in Canada

A survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institute in 2023 revealed that half of Canadian adults do not have a will─ a proportion that has remained consistent over the past five years. There are many reasons Canadians shy away from making wills. The more obvious reasons include the following:

  • Age: 26% say they are too young to worry about it.
  • Economic status: 16% say they don’t have any assets to worry about.
  • Cost: 15% say it is too expensive to get a will written.

Some other reasons are the time-consuming nature of making a will, not wanting to discuss personal details with strangers, and not wanting to think about dying. Nevertheless, end-of-life planning is essential and legal professionals are in a prime position to provide information and guidance to their clients on outlining a plan for their estate and/or making a legal last will and testament.

.

Who Needs a Will?

The short answer is every adult, regardless of age or economic circumstance. Especially if they own property or businesses, have children, have property or possessions of significant value, are blended families, are separated but not divorced, etc. Two often-overlooked situations are:

  • Newcomers to Canada: Having possessions or beneficiaries across borders introduces complexity to wills and estate planning as foreign and local tax laws and implications must be considered. Given that Canada relies on immigration to bolster labour shortages, address an aging population, and grow the economy, the number of residents with cross-border assets is rising. The federal government recently announced its target of welcoming 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 new permanent residents each in 2025 and 2026. These newcomers will need expert wills and estate planning advice from legal professionals.
  • Digital Influencers: The advancement of technology and social media has created a new kind of wealth and asset class that is sometimes omitted ─ digital assets. Digital assets include high-value social media accounts, cryptocurrencies, digital photos, rewards points, phone content, etc. These assets are of even greater value to digital influencers. Knowledgeable legal professionals should work with such clients to identify digital assets, protect against theft, and ensure that they are passed on to loved ones.

How To Talk to Your Clients About Wills and Estate Planning

Discussing wills and estate planning with clients is crucial but can be uncomfortable, as many people shy away from thinking about end-of-life. Here are some tactful ways to approach the conversation:

  • Lead with value: Focus on the benefits and value of having a plan and avoid morbidity as much as possible. Rephrase statements like, “What will happen to your business when you die?” into, “Do you have a succession plan in place for your business?” Both questions essentially mean the same thing, but the second is reframed in a way that is less morbid and more focused on the client’s legacy rather than the eventuality of death.
  • Keep it simple: Estate planning legal documents can be complex, making it difficult for clients to read and comprehend them. As a legal advisor, you can help your clients by simplifying the language and creating summaries of dense sections where possible. Consider making a single-page flowchart to depict how their estate plan works, including the distribution of assets and updated values for each asset over time. By breaking down the complexities of estate planning into everyday language and visual aids, you can help your clients better understand their plans and gain peace of mind.
  • Be proactive: Lawyers often build long-term relationships with their clients, which gives them an inside look into the events and developments that may require creating or updating a will or estate plan. Your clients may not always make the connection between these events and updating their wills. Proactively bringing it to their attention can help build trust and foster a good client relationship.

 

When to Bring Up Wills and Estate Planning with Your Clients

Significant life changes like marriage or common-law partnerships, births, new business ownership, relocation, etc., present prime opportunities to check in with your clients about making or updating their wills or estate plans.

  • Real Estate Transactions: When a real estate transaction concludes, such as the sale or purchase of property, it presents an ideal opportunity to discuss with your client the importance of creating or updating their will. Consider bundling it with your real estate service package. Offering this service adds value to your client and presents an excellent opportunity for cross-selling and diversifying your income.
  • Make a Will Month: Make a Will Month is an opportunity for lawyers to raise public awareness about the significance of having a will and ensuring it is accurate and up to date. You can reach out to your clients directly via email, phone calls or in-person visits. It would help if you also created awareness on your website, blogs, and social media platforms. Make a Will Month is observed in various provinces at different times of the year. In Ontario, it takes place in November, and in line with our commitment to being a comprehensive practice management partner for legal professionals, Dye & Durham provides a range of wills and estate planning solutions to simplify the process for lawyers in Ontario.
    • Will Builder®, unlike other wills programs, is more than just precedents. Developed by experienced lawyers, it visually and intuitively guides you through the will-building process. Using a wealth of proprietary automated expertise, it asks you the right questions to make the process of drafting and assembling comprehensive, high-quality wills and powers of attorney quicker and easier.
    • Estate-a-Base delivers robust functionality and a streamlined approach to estate management. It automates the Ontario Superior Court Forms, the Estate Information Return, and many other documents, uses advance scheduling to inform you of pending action items, and produces an array of reports extending far beyond those mandatory for passing accounts.

Contact us to sign up or learn more about our estate planning and other practice management solutions.

Go to Media

LATEST MEDIA

Q2 2024 Canadian Pulse Report
05/30/2024
Insights, Pulse Report

Q2 2024 Canadian Pulse Report

About the Report Released quarterly, the Dye & Durham Canadian Pulse Report is designed to unveil trends and provide insights into Canadian consumer sentiment across three areas: the economy, technology,…

Read more
05/30/2024
Press Releases

One-in-Three Canadians Expect Bank of Canada to Begin Interest Rate Cuts in June

 Two-thirds say lower interest rates will have a positive impact on their financial wellbeing Nearly 40% have delayed a major purchase in the past year due to high interest rates;…

Read more
05/29/2024
News

Dye & Durham Makes Legal Information Accessible and Immediate with the Launch of DeeDee, Your Legal Information AI Assistant

First generative AI-enabled offering from Dye & Durham designed to make sourcing and understanding legal information fast and simple DeeDee makes it easy for solo, small and medium-sized law firms…

Read more
lawyer stress management
05/09/2024
Insights

High Stakes, High Stress: Is Poor Well-being an Inevitable Occupational Hazard of Legal Practice?

“When I started law school, I loved it…what I didn’t realize was the same work was also steering me onto a path of debilitating burnout.” – (McCrary, 2022)1   Stress…

Read more
04/25/2024
News

Dye & Durham and Athennian announce the upcoming launch of Unity® Entity Management

Dye & Durham and Athennian join forces to launch Unity® Entity Management Unity® Entity Management will be available to all Dye & Durham customers through the Unity® Global Platform, providing law firms…

Read more
how to choose the right legal accounting software for my law firm in Canada
04/05/2024
Insights

Choosing the Right Canadian Legal Accounting Software for Your Law Firm: Tips for Selection and Optimization

The Language of Business Accounting has evolved over the years from merely being a method of record-keeping to a crucial aspect of any business, often referred to as the language…

Read more
04/04/2024
Insights, Pulse Report

Q1 2024 Canadian Pulse Report

About the Report Conducted quarterly, the Dye & Durham Canadian Pulse Report is designed to uncover trends and insights into Canadian sentiment surrounding three key areas: the economy, technology, and…

Read more
04/04/2024
Press Releases, Pulse Report

Canadians Feeling Less Pessimistic About Their Financial Positions, Eagerly Eying Rate Cuts to Reenter Housing Market

Nearly two-in-five Canadians believe that Canada is currently in a recession. Despite economic uncertainty, more Canadians in Q1 2024 feel that they are in a better financial position than they…

Read more
Virtual ID Verification with Authentication: The Canadian Lawyer’s Guide
02/01/2024
Insights

Virtual ID Verification with Authentication: The Canadian Lawyer’s Guide

Digital ID Verification Legal professionals are required to have comprehensive KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) procedures in place to manage risks and prevent involvement in fraudulent activities….

Read more
01/25/2024
Insights, Pulse Report

2024 Strategy for Law Firms and Legal Professionals

Global Landscape As 2024 gets underway, geopolitical tensions, challenging economic climates, and the possibility of another supply chain crisis may cause the year to seem daunting for some. However, it…

Read more
Dye & Durham Pulse Report
01/25/2024
Insights, Pulse Report

Q4 2023 Canadian Pulse Report

Read more
01/17/2024
Press Releases, Pulse Report

Canadians Gearing Up to Re-enter the Housing Market Despite Declining Confidence in the Economy

Less than one-in-ten Canadians believe we’ll avoid a recession in the next 12 months    Fewer respondents in Q4 planning to wait for home prices / interest rates to drop before…

Read more