LegalWills.ca features that are not supported by any other leading online Will service.
We often see reviews of online Will writing services. These reviews typically look as far as pricing, look and feel of the website, maybe support options. Unfortunately reviewers rarely take the Will service itself for a test drive. They don’t usually imagine different scenarios to determine how capable the Will service is in addressing different demands.
At LegalWills.ca we confidently regard our Will writing service as the most complete, and most flexible service of any online Will application.
In this article, we will take a quick look at just eleven things that you can do at LegalWills.ca, things that are not supported by other leading online Will writing platforms.
1. Flexibility in distributing your estate
It has been noted in some reviews that some competitors of LegalWills.ca have a slicker interface. But there is a significant downside to a drag and drop interface. Options are significantly limited.
Let us take a common scenario. You wish to leave everything to your spouse or partner. If you are both involved in an accident at the same time, you would like your estate to go to your children. If you are all involved in an accident at the same time, everything should be divided between your three favourite charities.
It is important that a service doesn’t box you into a corner with your distribution plan. For example, one leading online Will writing service, at this same point in the distribution plan gives you ONE option (and that option doesn’t really make any sense, the child of one beneficiary is the other beneficiary. The second beneficiary is a minor child)
2. Flexibility with Executor appointments
LegalWills.ca is the online online service that supports joint Executor appointments, with joint alternate Executor appointments. Something as simple as naming your spouse as the first choice Executor with your two children acting as joint alternates is easily supported at LegalWills.ca, but not supported through any of the other leading online Will writing services.
LegalWills.ca allows up to three first choice Executors.
LegalWills.ca then uniquely supports up to three alternate Executors who can either all step into the role together, or they can assume their responsibilities in succession.
No other online service provider offers close to this flexibility for the Executor appointments.
3. Lifetime interest trusts
We do something very special at LegalWills.ca. Our development priorities are shaped by our support tickets. Over 18 years we have received countless questions, and suggestions for improvements. As the years have passed our service has become more comprehensive and addresses the needs of a variety of family situations.
For example, blended family situations – where your spouse is not the biological parent of your children. This is a very tricky situation because a basic online Will service would allow you to name your spouse as the main beneficiary, and your children as the alternate beneficiaries of your estate.
The problem with this distribution plan is that once you die and everything goes to your spouse, they may move on with their life. They may even start a new relationship. They may lose touch with your children.
When they die, their entire estate (which is now made up of your entire estate), will be distributed according to the directions in their Will. There is a high likelihood that this distribution plan will not include your children. Your children will therefore receive nothing from your estate.
At LegalWills.ca we are the only online Will service that allows you to create a lifetime interest trust that addresses this situation directly. It allows you to leave everything to your spouse in trust, for the rest of their life. But once they die, everything will pass to your children, and not according to the instructions in their Will.
These “Blended family options” are available from within the distribution of your estate section of the Will service.
4. Flexible minor trusts
A young child cannot receive an inheritance directly – you cannot leave $100,000 to a six year old. What happens is that the bequest is left in trust and managed on behalf of the trustee until they reach a certain age. If no trust is set up in the Will, the child will receive their entire inheritance at the age of 18 or 19 depending on the Province.
Most people regard this as rather young to be receiving a significant inheritance.
Your Will does allow you to change the age at which a child can receive their inheritance. All online Will services (with the exception of LegalWills.ca) simply allow you to specify a different age, and this delay will apply to all minor beneficiaries named in the Will.
LegalWills.ca is the only online Will service that allows you to distribute portions of an inheritance over different ages. And the only online Will service that allows you to set different ages for different minor beneficiaries.
This can be useful as it allows you to take into account different personalities (perhaps some children will be more likely to responsibly handle a large inheritance at 21, but others may need to wait a few years).
But it is also useful because it allows your children to receive their inheritances at the same time, even if their ages are a couple of years apart.
5. Estate planning for assets in the US or UK
Over a million Canadians spend more than a month each year in the US. There are also about a million Americans currently living in Canada. As major companies from both nationalities open satellite offices across North America it is becoming increasingly common for Canadians to own property in the US, and of course, US citizens to settle in Canada.
At LegalWills.ca we have developed an Expat Will service to address this growing mobility. We generally recommend that you prepare a Will for each country in which you hold assets, so you should have a Will to cover your US assets and a Will to cover your Canadian assets.
Our Expat Will service allows you to prepare a Will for the UK, US or Canada to cover just the assets held in that country. So if for example you were a Canadian, living in Canada, but you owned a condo in Florida, you can use our Standard MyWill service written under the law of your Province, and then prepare a separate Expat Will to cover your condo in the US.
The two Wills would then work together to cover your entire estate, without cancelling each other out. It is important to use a service designed specifically for this situation, otherwise the revocation clause in the Will (that states that all previous Wills are cancelled) would cancel out your other Will.
6. Separate detailed funeral wishes
There is a common misconception that the expression of your funeral wishes should be included in your Will. This is a mistake for a few reasons, but some online Will services still do it.
Firstly, your funeral wishes are not legally binding in Canada. They are simply an expression of your preferences. You would hope that loved ones would respect your wishes, but they are not legally required to do so. This makes it very different to a Last Will and Testament where the instructions are legally binding. Your funeral wishes do not have to be signed in the presence of two witnesses as they are not a legal document, again, very different to a Will.
Your Will has to go through an extensive court process called “probate” to be accepted as your official Last Will and Testament. By the time this is done, your funeral will have been taken care of.
Although some online Will services have a simple question related to “buried or cremated” this is the wrong approach. At LegalWills.ca we have a completely separate service called MyFuneral that steps you through a number of decisions related to your funeral. There is a lot of value in documenting your wishes, so that your loved ones are not left with difficult decisions at a vulnerable time.
If you state clearly that you do not want a $10,000 casket, it makes it easier for your loved ones to resist high pressure sales tactics when they are least able to deal with them.
Our MyFuneral wishes guides you through 19 steps to documenting your funeral preferences. At the end you can download and print the final document as a PDF and store this document with your Will.
7. Review by a legal professional
Our online Will service guides you through the process of preparing your Will. You may find that the options offered to you as you step through the service fit your needs completely.
If you are married with children and would like your entire estate to go directly to your spouse or partner, but if you were involved in a common accident it would be divided in equal shares between your children. You can step through our service, select the first option on each page, and you can create your Will in about 15 minutes.
If you want to leave specific bequests to particular individuals, with the remainder going to your spouse, again, it’s quite straightforward and you can do this from the options presented to you.
However, you may want to get very creative with your Will. And on each page we offer the option of “none of the above, let me describe how I want to distribute my estate”. This can get very complicated, as you are free to describe exactly what you would want to happen.
Fortunately, at LegalWills.ca we also offer an option to have your Will reviewed by a qualified estate planning attorney. They will read your final document checking it for completeness, consistency, clarity, and provide recommendations, reassurances and suggestions on your wording.
LegalWills.ca is unique in offering this option.
8. Have your document printed and mailed to you
This is a simple option, but an important one for many people who do not have access to their own printer. We are finding more people accessing our service from an iPad or smartphone, which is not connected to a printer.
A Will is a personal document, so the option of printing it at work, or in a local library, or at your nearest Staples, may not work for you.
We therefore offer the option of printing the document for you, we will put it in the folder, with instructions and mail it out to you. If you need it in a rush, we can courier it or expedite it. In this case you would usually receive your Last Will and Testament on the next business day.
9. Document your personal details and assets for your Executor
You should never attempt to list your assets in your Last Will and Testament. You don’t know when your Will is going to come into effect; it could be next week, it could be decades from now. Your assets are likely to change over time, and you do not want to have to update your Will every time you open a new bank account, or buy a new car.
Most Wills refer to an “entire estate” being passed onto a spouse, or divided between children.
After you have died, your Executor has the responsibility to gather up that entire estate and distribute the assets according to the instructions in the Will. The problem is, it is impossible for the Executor to know the extent of an estate, and if the assets are not documented anywhere, how will the Executor know that nothing has been overlooked.
It is this issue that prompted LegalWills.ca to extend our services way beyond simple Will writing, to offer a complete set of tools to ensure that your assets were all accounted for. This is a service that no other online Will service provides, and as far as we are away, no other law office provides.
We created MyLifeLocker. The ultimate tool for documenting your personal details, key contacts, and creating an inventory of your assets, including your digital assets.
You are able to maintain this inventory all online (or you can print the document and store it with your Will). At the appropriate time, your Executor can login with their unique “keyholder” ID and access the information. Safeguards are in place to ensure that no information is released prematurely.
10. Upload critical documents to a secure vault
An extension of MyLifeLocker is the ability to upload files and documents to a secure Vault. Again, this is unique, and no other online Will service offers anything like this.
Your documents are encrypted, and you can then assign a unique keyholder ID to a trusted individual. At the appropriate time, they can login and view your documents. Again, security measures are in place to protect against premature access.
What can you store in your vault? family photos, recipe books, unpublished novels, spreadsheets with login credentials for online accounts. Any file that you can create on your computer can be stored in your vault.
11. Write your Will for under $40
The cost of a Will is a nuanced subject that we have covered in other blog articles. Our most significant competitors charge around $100 for a Will. One particular competitor claims to be free, but then requires a credit card number and continues to bill you on a monthly basis until you notice, and then cancel.
There are other ways to offer a cheaper online Will service. You could sell customer data (something that we absolutely would never do), you could advertise other products to your mailing list (something we would never do), or you could just have no staff.
We have a legal team and the best customer service team in the market. But we can still offer our Will service at $39.95. No comparable service comes close.
But what can another online Will service do that LegalWills.ca cannot?
I really wanted to try to make this a balanced article, and address some of our shortcomings, but I have used all of our competitor’s services extensively. I cannot find a single feature in a competitor online Will service that cannot be supported through our service. If you do, please let us know in the comments.
What else sets LegalWills.ca apart?
Two important attributes set LegalWills.ca apart from our competitors.
We have been in business since 2003. Hundreds of thousands of Wills have been created using our service and not once have we heard of there being an issue during the probate process with one of our Wills. We have on the other hand heard from people who have taken our Wills through the court processes without a problem.
If you choose to write your Will with an online service, make sure that you use one that is tried and tested.
We have hundreds of thousands of customers at LegalWills.ca and we are immensely proud of our reviews.
We primarily use Google Reviews, and we are now currently sitting at well over 950 five star reviews.
On Facebook we also have a 4.9 star rating
And of course, with the Better Business Bureau, an A+ rating
Many of these reviews are positive because of an interaction with our support team. A dedicated team, based in Ottawa, with decades of experience.
Write your Will today
If you are thinking of writing your Will, I would encourage you to try us. We have a 30 day, no questions asked, money back guarantee (not all of our competition offer this), so you have absolutely nothing to lose in comparing us to others.
If you have any questions along the way, please contact us, we are always happy to help.
Tim Hewson is one of the founders of LegalWills.ca.
He has over 20 years of experience helping people to write their Will and other estate planning documents. He has been interviewed by many of the major news media outlets including CTV, Global News, The Toronto Star, and other leading Canadian publications. He has also contributed to a number of financial planning books.
Throughout his career, Tim has written extensively on the subject of Will writing and estate planning.
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