This is a review of Willful Wills, a digital platform where clients can create a will online for as little as $99.

(Boomer & Echo readers can now receive 10% off any Willful plan purchase by entering the promo code: Boomer.)

Technology disrupts many industries by driving down costs and increasing accessibility. Just like how Netflix wiped-out Blockbuster when it started streaming content directly into your living room for $7/month, FinTech is shaking up the banking industry by finding new and better ways to deliver financial services to consumers. One of the more interesting and useful FinTech companies to launch recently is a start-up called Willful, which allows customers to create a will online for as little as $99 (currently available for Ontario and Alberta residents only).

I met Kevin Oulds, the founder of Willful, at a conference in Toronto last year. During his presentation I was immediately struck by the potential for Willful to help increase the number of Canadians who have a legal will. An estimated 56 percent of Canadian adults do not have a will, and nearly 30 percent of that group either do not know how to get started or believe they cannot afford one.

Willful Review: Online Wills For $99

That’s why a solution like Willful strikes the right balance between cost and simplicity.

Willful’s motto is, online wills made easy. I’ll say. I tried out the platform for this Willful review and in less than 15 minutes had created a will along with Powers of Attorney for Personal Care and Property for both me and my wife.

One caveat is that Canadian law does not allow wills to be signed online and so you need to print the documents and sign them in the presence of two witnesses for them to be legally binding. Then, simply store your documents in a safe place.

Let’s compare that 15-minute painless process with my own experience setting up a will and personal directive.

Creating a Will: The Traditional Method

My wife and I met with a lawyer to create our will and personal directives shortly after our first child was born. I would have been 31 or 32 years-old at the time. 88 percent of Canadians between the ages of 27 and 34 do not have a will and I’m sure the only reason why I made it a priority was because of this blog. I wanted to go through the process and be a responsible personal finance blogger.

It’s an intimidating process. First, we had to find a law firm that handled wills and estates – not all of them do. Once we found one we set up an appointment with a lawyer and several days later had our first meeting. The lawyer gave us a stack of paperwork to peruse and told us to come back for a second visit. Our Millennial readers are sweating at the mere thought of two face-to-face meetings.

I’m comfortable talking about money and even sharing my net worth online. But it took some next-level communication between my wife and I when confronted with questions about our own mortality, along with difficult scenarios such as who would raise our children if we died. Frankly, we could have used some helpful nudges as far as what people typically check off in these situations.

Finally, the cost for our will and personal directive was in the neighbourhood of $1,000. Damn, lawyers are expensive!

So why don’t more people have a legal will? It takes time, the process is intimidating, and it’s expensive. Many people also believe that wills and estate plans aren’t for simple, everyday people, but rather they’re for thrice-married oil barons with trust fund kids who want to keep their birth-mother away from the family fortune.

But even if your family and finances are fairly straightforward the number one reason to get a will is so you can decide exactly how your estate will be distributed. If you die without a will there is no guarantee that your wishes will be carried out as desired.

Back to the Willful Wills Review

Willful’s platform was developed in collaboration with leading estate lawyers, with pricing plans starting at $99. The company is based in Toronto, and its services are currently available in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia – with Manitoba right around the corner.

Willful pricing plans

Willful has three pricing plans from which to choose.

1.) The Essentials — $99 CAD

Ideal for single people who want to set up a will but don’t want to set up Power of Attorney to dictate what happens to them and their property in the event of an emergency. This plan includes a Last Will and Testament, and allows you to:

  • Take care of your estate and allocate property
  • Make funeral wishes known
  • Plan for your children and their inheritance

2.) Premium — $150 CAD

Same as The Essentials, plus this plan includes a Power of Attorney for Personal Care and Property, and allows you to:

  • Take care of your estate and allocate property
  • Make funeral wishes known
  • Plan for your children and their inheritance
  • Plan for an emergency

3.) Couples (Mirrored) — $250 CAD

Ideal for couples who want to set up a will and Power of Attorney to dictate what happens to them and their property in the event of an emergency. This plan includes two Last Will and Testaments, Power of Attorney for personal care and property for both you and your spouse, and allows you to:

  • Take care of your estate and allocate property
  • Make final wishes known
  • Plan for your children and their inheritance

All plans include unlimited changes.

I chose the Couples plan for my review and, as I mentioned, had the entire process completed in less than 15 minutes. Here’s how it worked:

Getting started with Willful:

First, visit the Willful website and create an account with an email address and password. Enter basic information about yourself such as your name, city of residence, date of birth, and marital status. Willful will recommend one of the three plans based on this information.

*Of note, founder Kevin Oulds initially forecasted to sell more of the Essentials plans ($99) but in reality the company has sold more Couples plans.

Willful Application (Laptop Mockup) 2

The Willful platform elegantly guides you through each of the steps; choosing your Executor, outlining your final wishes, allocating your estate, choosing beneficiaries, plus any specific bequests you wish to make. Helpful nudges guide you through each step, and I liked that Willful included suggestions like to name more than one person for Power of Attorney for property and personal care.

Willful will and power of attorneyOnce you’ve completed all the steps you pay for the plan and then can access the documents – which, again, need to be printed and signed in order to become legally binding.

Final thoughts

More Canadians should have a legal will in place. Too many people put off creating a will because it’s uncomfortable to think about or they didn’t know where to start.

Willful offers a simple way to create legal will online without visiting a lawyer. And it does it at a fraction of the cost compared to visiting a lawyer.

Kevin Oulds’ mission is for every Canadian adult to have a will. While that goal is unlikely to be achieved, Willful has created an online platform that’s affordable, easy to use, and removes the intimidation factor away from end-of-life planning, making it possible for more wide-spread adoption of wills and estate planning.

Indeed, you can get started today from the comfort of your couch.

Update: Boomer & Echo readers can now receive 10% off any Willful plan purchase by entering the promo code: Boomer.

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16 Comments

  1. John on April 3, 2018 at 5:51 am

    Great article Robb, I hope more people will make use of it.
    My biggest issue with a will, and we have one, is that as you grow and progress, it needs to be updated. It is bad enough to have to go through the motions to get a will but the changes are just as bad. So it looks to me that this programme allows you to update your will at will and for free, something that you most likely will do more when it is as easy as this. We will have a try.
    What about registry though? Our will is registered through our lawyer. How does this work with Willful? How would people be able to find your will if you only have a copy at home?

    • Todd Roberts on April 3, 2018 at 6:33 am

      I’d suggest three places to keep the Will:
      1) a safety deposit box if you have one with the Executor knowing where you keep the key.
      2) A copy with your Executor
      3) A copy in a firebox at home where you might also keep other important documents. Also ensure Executor knows the location of firebox and key.

      I would keep it in at least two places and the only issue is if you change the Will to remember to destroy/replace all outstanding Wills.

  2. TJ Machado on April 3, 2018 at 8:04 am

    The blockchain is a perfect solution for maintaining the integrity of a will and subsequent updates. I’m hoping the government will soon remove the paper requirement – which is very inefficient. Readers should also look at legalwills.ca. It offers storage of documents and a process for survivors to access them should anything untoward happen.

  3. Liz on April 3, 2018 at 9:09 am

    We typed our own will by gathering what info we needed from free online sites and had it witnessed. We covered all our needs. I know you can also buy printed ones from stationary stores. Do you see this causing problems?

  4. ALICE KWAN on April 3, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Do I need to register this online Will to make it legal?

  5. Liz Higgins on April 3, 2018 at 9:43 am

    I’ll be looking forward to the day this is available in Manitoba. I do not have a will.

  6. WM on April 3, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Lawyer here. Not an estate lawyer but a litigation lawyer that sees battles over wills and powers of attorney.

    Although it may be better than nothing, (note that intestacy legislation rules may align with what many people want anyway), these wills fail to cover estate planning. Failing to address estate planning can and often does result in litigation, even with a validly signed will.

    Do you have a blended family? Are you divorced? Have you decided to disown someone? Have you actually had the will signed correctly? Did you structure things to minimize taxation issues? Not one of these questions is reserved for the rich, but apply to everyday people. Legal will kits, whether online or not, fail to properly assess you. It is complex even for uncomplex people and some back and forth with a lawyer is the best way to get it right.

    Besides getting it right, paying a lawyer gets your estate an insurance policy. If the lawyer messed up, his professional insurance will make it right with the family. I bet this website requires lots of disclaimers to be agreed to so they bear no liability, but I have yet to have look.

    Lawyers also meticulously document your wishes and your demeanor. This is used as evidence when people say the will was signed under duress, mental disability, forged signature etc. You get no such thing with a will kit.

    Despite this I will say that $1000 is overpriced for a basic will and power of attorney. Many firms will charge $500 and people should ask around.

    • Alex on April 3, 2018 at 7:38 pm

      Thanks for this opinion. I came here to see whether any lawyers expressed their professional opinion or not.
      As far as I understand, it’s a standard kit that uses a universal approach. But what if you have some unique requests?
      I’ve known about this service for some time. Initially was very excited, but then understood that probably it won’t cover everything..(

      Robb, am I allowed to post links for other resources here? If not, remove it, please.
      An interesting opinion on estate planning and wills -http://artemfinancial.ca/blog/default/view?code=To+Die+or+not+Today

      • WM on April 5, 2018 at 2:55 pm

        The main problem is that “you do not know what you do not know”. I mean just look how many comments ask if you need to register your Will.

        If you do not understand taxes on your cottage, how can you plan for it with a will kit? If you do not understand that your wish to disinherit someone might not be as simple as excluding them from your will, how can you make sure it sticks? If you are in a blended family and do not understand that your new spouse may be able to change his/her will after you die and disinherit your own children, how can you stop that? The answer is: lawyer up. Sorry (not sorry) that there is a cost to that – can anyone really expect $100 will cover professional legal advice? Paying $100 gets you a filled form Will, not actual legal advice. That’s fine, but people should just understand there is a difference in the product they are buying (legal document with names inserted vs. estate planning).

    • Beth on April 5, 2018 at 4:56 am

      Thank you for providing some balance as I found this article too one-sided. I like to read about new products and services, but I really feel that business relationships should be disclosed.

      I looked into Wilful when it first came out, but stopped part way through when I realized how much information I had to share online. (Not quit comfortable with that yet.). Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I want a human being to answer my questions too!

    • Darby on May 1, 2018 at 9:22 am

      I am also glad to see a lawyer comment on the importance of having a lawyer draw up your will. Sometimes even the best will has loopholes that can be contested if a beneficiary decides to do so. I would also caution people to choose wisely when choosing an executor as these people bear some liability. My question is what is the statute of limitations on the liability that an executor assumes in Ontario?

    • Diba on September 6, 2019 at 12:39 pm

      Hello WM (Lawer). you mentioned some firms will charge $500 but I have been looking for months and getting $1500 to $3000 quotes. Are you able to share some firm names that are in the $500 to $1000 range?
      Thank you
      Diba

  7. Jim on April 3, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Question: let’s say many years ago I signed up for a a 20-year life insurance policy and put my sister as the beneficiary. If I now get married and wish to have my wife as the beneficiary, would this will be sufficient to ‘override’ that? ie I wouldn’t have to call up my life insurance company and explicitly change from sister->wife.

  8. The Curious Frugal on April 4, 2018 at 11:44 am

    I looked into Willful a little while ago because neither my husband or I have wills (I know!). Unfortunately we don’t live in Ontario, otherwise it seems like an interesting – and less daunting – option.

  9. David Scott on April 4, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    I would be interested in you doing a comparison between Willful and Legalwills.ca. They both offer similar services and it would be helpful to see a comparative analysis.

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