People are eager to have their wills made amid COVID-19 concerns

Windsor lawyer Paul Brisebois say's there are two things he can't fix — death and incapacity — both of which, he says, are good reasons for having an up to date will. 

Demand prompts online company to offer free wills to educators

A Windsor lawyer said he's never had such a high demand for wills as in recent months since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the demand is so great across Canada, an online company is offering free wills for educators. (Shutterstock)

Windsor lawyer Paul Brisebois say's there are two things he can't fix — death and incapacity — both of which, he says, are good reasons for having an up to date will. 

Brisebois, who has been practicing law in the city for nearly 25 years, said he has seen a significant uptick of clients looking to make a will since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

"I believe people are more concerned about it, and it's taken on more of an urgency," he said. "There's also the anxiety because it's almost come as a realization that 'I may need this sooner rather than later.'"

The increase in demand for estate planning isn't just at Brisebois' office.

"We've certainly seen this year that trigger for writing a will has never been higher," said Tim Hewson, CEO and co-founder of LegalWills.

"People have for whatever reason they see what's going on in the world and thought I should probably write my will."

LegalWills has even offered Canadian educators free services this month ahead of school in September — something the company previously had done for health-care workers. 

Hewson said he noticed organizations recommending that teacher's have their wills done ahead of this school year, so his company decided to offer that usually costly service for free. 

"We're hoping that the environment is going to be a safe environment and we're not making a political statement here," he said. "We're hoping that none of these documents need to be used in the near term but if somebody does feel prompted to write their will, we have a service available to them and they don't have to pay for it."

Windsor lawyer Paul Brisebois said he's never had so many people seeking wills as he has in recent months. (CBC News)

About one will is completed every minute on LegalWills, said Hewson, who also saw a record number of people using the service in April. 

Not an easy thing to do

Many of the clients Brisebois sees who are seeking wills have been reluctant to get things written up, because they want to speak with their families first. 

"They're feeling their kids are already so anxious with their own children and everything that's going on, they don't want to raise it," said Brisebois. 

"A lot of the times I respond and say 'I fully understand the world that we're in, but I don't know if there's going to be a better time.'"

Brisebois explained that without an end of life plan, surviving relatives can be left "in turmoil" dealing with your estate which may end up before the courts. 

Hewson agrees that a will is something everyone will need eventually, and plenty of other legal documents that go along with end of life. 

"Other documents are a financial power of attorney and that document allows somebody to make financial transactions on your behalf if you're incapacitated," he explained. "And also a living will or a healthcare directive allow somebody to make medical decisions."

Hewson suggests having a list of assets so when that person has to step in for you, they have the necessary details and who to contact on your behalf. 

Brisebois does have some advice for those who may be considering making their will.

"Get it done," he said. "Because the downside is an extreme anxiousness for the people that have been left behind and it's extremely costly."

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