The Canadian Bar Association's Nunavut branch is pushing people to let their dying wishes be known in the territory that has one of the highest rates of people dying without leaving a written will.
CBA members set up at a table at Iqaluit's Northmart last weekend for people to ask questions, and the local branch is offering free legal advice on how to complete a will in Nunavut.
“We’re all apprehensive about death,” says Marc Noreau, who’s with the Nunavut branch of the CBA. “It’s a human reaction, but if we turn around and look at our life, this is no different than any other decision we take financially in regard to our family or loved ones.”
Noreau says one reason so few people in Nunavut leave a will is probably a language and cultural barrier, which is now being addressed.
It lays out requirements for writing a homemade will — something Iqaluit barrister Robert Bailey says is better than nothing, but far from perfect.
“You may do something technically wrong in making it yourself and you won’t find out about it until after you’ve died, which will be too late.”
Bailey offers will packages for $300 for an individual and $500 for a couple. They take about 40 minutes to complete. He says people writing their will should also assign power-of-attorney to someone who will carry it out. He says both go hand-in-hand.
“Families break up over wills,” says Iqaluit resident Christine Lamothe, who says it cost her family $13,000 to hire a lawyer to wade through documents and accounts after her father died without a clearly-written will.
“The more you have it set up properly to protect your family from each other, maybe the better it is.”
Lamothe’s advice to anyone who hasn’t got a will is simple: “Take a moment, close your eyes if you need to, imagine what life is like for the people that you leave behind to have to deal with what you own.”
In addition to Iqaluit, the Canadian Bar Association also plans to hold information sessions about wills in Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet in the new year.