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How much does a will cost in Canada? Breaking down the fees

The average price for a will in Canada is $624. Dive into what influences will pricing in our latest analysis.

How much does a will cost in Canada

How Much Does a Will Cost in Canada

According to a legal fees report done in 2021 by the Canadian Lawyer Magazine, the average price for a will nationally across Canada was $624 dollars.

However, a main caveat about averages is there are variables - just because $624 dollars is the average price, there are variables that influence the cost of the will:

Location: Prices may vary across provinces such as BC, where the average cost was $821 CAD for a simple will compared to Ontario where the average cost was $503 CAD.

Attorney Pricing Model: An estate attorneys typically charge: Hourly or Flat rates. Depending on the size of the estate, an hourly rate is helpful to those with a fairly simple estate.

Estate Size and Complexity: A larger and more complex estate (ex: Business interests, property globally, a large number of beneficiaries, dual wills etc) will generally require more energy and time resulting in a higher cost of a will.

The type of will: Canada accepts a few different forms of valid wills such as: Lawyer drafted wills, Handwritten wills (varies by province), will kits, and online wills.

Costs and Comparisons of Different Valid Wills in Canada

While we've already peeled back the layers on the average cost of a will and the factors influencing the cost - the real cost comes into view when we examine the avenues Canadians take to draft their wills.

From the traditional to the modern, each route offers distinct advantages, whether it's the bespoke tailoring of a lawyer-drafted document or the streamlined simplicity of digital solutions.

Below, we juxtapose these choices side by side, offering you a comparative snapshot that goes beyond mere numbers and into the realm of personal suitability and peace of mind.

Lawyer Drafted WillOnline Will ServiceWill-Kits
CostA 2021 Canadian Lawyers Magazine survey reveals that a lawyer-drafted will typically costs $624Usually cost less than $300 for a complete will package including last will and testament, Power of Attorney, and personal directivesMost affordable option, typically costing between $20 and $50
CustomizationHigh level of customization, tailored to address specific legal concernsOffers some customization for asset distribution, specific bequests, and appointing guardians for minors, among othersVery limited to no customizations available
GuidanceProfessional guidance provided by a lawyerPlatforms guide users through each step with straightforward questions, simplifying complex legal jargonNo guidance provided
ConvenienceThe planner may have to go back and forth between their estate professional, financial advisor and lawyer. The time taken to draft a will depends on the lawyer’s schedule and availability.Can be completed from the comfort of your home within 20 minutesDepends on the individual's speed and understanding of the process
Risk Of InvalidityLow risk as the will is drafted by a professionalDepends on the level of sophistication of the platform. Online will templates created by ClearEstate are reviewed by lawyers and estate professionals with years of experience and pose low risk of invalidity.High risk as there is no guidance and any improperly articulated instructions could potentially be challenged or deemed invalid.

Is an online Will the option for you?

Choosing the Right Option for Your Will

Creating a will is a crucial step in life planning, ensuring your wishes are honoured. When selecting a method for will creation, we advise clients to consider the following aspects:

  • Estate complexity: If you have a complex estate with unique needs and circumstances that go beyond the standard clauses in a simple will, you may need a more comprehensive estate plan. As examples, a complex estate may involve assets outside Canada, individuals who are separated but not divorced, have a blended family etc. We have created a quick diagnostic quiz that will help you understand the complexity of your estate.
  • Budget: Whether your estate is simple or complex, there are options available for everyone’s budget. For a simple estate, in most cases, an online will should suffice. For more complex needs, you may need to add customized clauses to your will. If a lawyer-drafted estate plan is outside your budget, you could consider new age estate planning services such as ClearEstate that can cover the most complex situations for a fraction of the legal fees required by lawyers.
  • Legal advice: Some situations are so unique that they may require legal advice. At ClearEstate, your estate professional will walk through the circumstances of your estate and determine if legal advice is necessary. We have partnered with vetted legal experts that can offer you legal advice on any topic needed. These legal experts are not employees of clearestate and are required to give you unbiased opinions that are most beneficial to you.

The Real Cost of Not Having A Will

A burden for your loved ones - not only will your loved ones be grieving, but dying without a will also leaves them with a burden of legal complexities. In such situations where one dies intestate, your assets are distributed based on provincial laws, not your personal wishes, potentially leaving your loved ones without the inheritance you had intended for them.

Without a will, the courts will decide who will care for your minor children, who manages your estate, and how your assets will be distributed. This can lead to family strife, unnecessary taxes, and the potential for your business to suffer. It can even mean that your charitable legacy may go unfulfilled​​.

Beyond the emotional and financial strain on your family, the absence of a will can also lead to situations where your estate is vulnerable to exploitation. There have been instances where estates are fraudulently claimed, leaving the rightful heirs entangled in protracted legal battles, as was the case with an Ontario man whose $800,000 estate was falsely claimed by someone who had no right to it​​.

The Importance of a Valid Will

When you create a will you leave less up to the guesswork of courts, the legal system and your executor. Here are some common complications that arise when one passes away intestate or without a will:

  • Operational delays and legal fees: Without a named executor, the courts appoint an executor for your estate. The probate process in Canada can take anywhere from a few weeks to over a year. Not having a named executor may further delay the process. The executor is legally entitled to a compensation which ranges between 2.5% of the gross value of the estate assets received, or 2.5% of the gross value of the estate assets distributed, and A care and management fee of 2/5 of 1% (0.4%) of the average annual value of the assets. In addition the executor may choose to appoint a lawyer to assist in settling your estate which may cost your estate thousands of dollars. Hence, it is important to choose an executor who has your best interests.
  • Distribution decisions: Without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the intestacy laws of the province in which they resided, which may not align with your personal wishes. A will allows you to specify exactly how you want your assets divided and to whom they should go. You can even name specific gifts for your beneficiaries. You can also appoint guardians for your minor children and create testamentary trusts without leaving it up to the courts to make those decisions for you.
  • Common law partners: If an individual dies intestate, their estate is distributed to their next of kin in a specified order, starting with legally married spouses and children. Common-law partners are not included in the statutory list of intestate successors, meaning they do not automatically inherit any part of the estate.

Choosing Your Will Wisely Within Budget

Crafting a will in Canada involves navigating a variety of factors, including cost, complexity, and personal preferences. With the average cost of a will varying significantly across different provinces and options ranging from traditional lawyer-drafted wills to modern online services and physical will kits, it's crucial for individuals to weigh these considerations carefully.

Each method offers its own blend of customization, guidance, and convenience, catering to diverse needs and budgets. The implications of not having a will, such as legal complexities and unintended asset distribution, underscore the importance of making an informed choice.

ClearEstate emerges as a compelling solution, offering an online will service that combines ease of use, affordability, and professional oversight. For those seeking a streamlined and accessible approach to estate planning, we invite you to try our online will platform, promising a user-friendly experience with the assurance of a legally sound will.

Take the first step towards ensuring your legacy is preserved according to your wishes by exploring our online will service today.

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