More than half of B.C. residents haven’t made a will—and this tech company wants to help

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      As the saying goes, nothing in life is certain apart from death and taxes.

      According to a recent survey, most British Columbians aren’t prepared for the former. More than half of the province’s residents—58 percent, to be exact—have not created a will, and over 90 percent of millennials currently have no formal plans of where to direct their assets. Of the 42 percent who do have a will, one in 10 say it’s out of date due to a recent change in circumstance like marriage, becoming a homeowner, or having kids.

      As Aretha Franklin and Prince’s descendants recently found out, things can get messy when a person dies without one.

      Now, a Canadian tech company believes it can help out.

      Willful is a startup that aims to change the way that Canadians prepare for and deal with death. Offering an online portal that guides individuals through the process of making a will, the company claims it can make a complete document in under 20 minutes, without the need for a notary or lawyer—instead generating its own pages that are made legally binding when signed in the presence of two witnesses.

      "I created Willful after a relative passed away unexpectedly and our family was left to navigate his wishes,” says Kevin Oulds, founder and CEO of the company. “I realized through that experience that despite death being an inevitability in life, no one wants to think about it or plan for it. People put off estate planning because it can be expensive and time-consuming, and that’s what we set out to change with Willful. Our mission is to change the way Canadians prepare for and deal with death, and we’re excited to launch our platform in B.C.”

      The company offers wills of various complexity to cover all of a person’s assets. Willful offers three packages, starting at $99 CAD for an individual will, and going up to $249 CAD for a mirrored will for couples with a power of attorney for personal care (living will), and power of attorney for property. The company also allows for unlimited edits to each document—so there’s still the opportunity to follow through on a threat of writing out a problem child.

      The Toronto-based startup launched in Ontario in 2017 before expanding into Alberta the following year. Now entering B.C., the team has worked with leading lawyers in the province to ensure that its wills are compliant with the region’s laws.

      Kate Wilson is the Technology Editor at the Georgia Straight. Follow her on Twitter @KateWilsonSays