COVID-19 hit the world hard, changing people’s outlooks on life. Estate lawyers in Edmonton have stated that this, in turn, has kindled interest in wills, as people look to ensure that everything is sorted out in case the worst happen.
The Edmonton Community Foundation held its annual Wills Week early in October 2020, remotely thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the week of the event, volunteer lawyers from across the province, from firms like Donich Law, hosted free presentations on things like picking executors and other important topics related to wills and testaments.
Community Foundation Director of Donor Services Noel Xavier noted that registrations and attendance was up for 2020, on top of more people across Edmonton asking about wills.
While the pandemic has forced some changes to how people arrange end-of-life plans, the increase in activity hasn’t been stopped. Notably, Alberta amended the Wills and Succession Act to accommodate remote signing and witnessing for wills. Later down the road, former Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer put a ministerial order in effect, extending this amendment to Aug. 15, 2022.
Lawyers from across the area, from firms like Donich Law and the like, have stated that parts of the process has been made easier thanks to technology, but disputes have gone up.
Lawyers are saying that, with people having to face mortality more than ever, a lot of hurt feelings and disagreements are happening. While virtual meetings are helpful, they’re saying that meeting in person for discussing wills is preferable and easier, as virtual meetings can lead to people missing cues and subtle things that would be easier to spot in person.
Wills aren’t the only thing people are arguing about, with lawyers reporting that arguments about attorney agreements and personal directives have also started cropping up more frequently.
McCuaig Desrochers’ Mike Simons says that it’s a good idea to update a will every 3 or so years, or after any major life event, like the birth or death of a relative, or a move across the country.
Other lawyers have stated the need for a will, as they say it relieves people of the burden of wondering what to do and who’s in charge should the worst come to pass.
They say that the default rules which take effect for people without will work pretty well most of the time, but not for people who are in blended families, have had multiple marriages, or have children with disabilities.