Charities offer a way for a will

A resolution for the New Year that you may have considered is making your will. Depending on your estate, there may be an enormous cost to passing without one. Your estate may be burdened with legal expenses and court fees for appointments of executors. There may be uncertainty and disagreement between possible beneficiaries exacting a high personal cost to your family. The province may even need to step in at more expense to your estate.

Clearly having your will and estate plan in order is a benefit both to you and your family. Many resolve to get their wills done, but many never see that resolution fulfilled.

A new service is gaining popularity that essentially consists of local law firms offering will writing services to supporters of Canadian charities. The service is simply titled the Canadian Free Wills Network. It is quickly showing itself to be a winning situation for Canadian charities, the public, and members of the legal profession. In short, the charity pays the lawyer a small fee for a simple “core” will. Additional work – such as a spousal trust or trusts for kids or power of attorneys – is not included, but a simple will is in place, which is a good step forward.

Many Canadian charities recognize that many of their supporters have not yet made a will. The reasons may be varied, but procrastination and inertia tend to play a role. If you are a member or supporter of a Canadian charity, you may be contacted by the organization to encourage you to have your will prepared and your estate put in order by a local participating lawyer. The benefit to the charity is the chance you will include and remember it in your will. In fact, many charities look to legacies for up to half the money they raise.

There is no obligation or pressure of any kind to include the charity in your will, however. A will is privileged and confidential between you and the lawyer, and the contents can never be shared unless you provide written permission. Generally, however, “warm supporters” of a charity are inclined to recognize and include that charity in their will – not to mention there are tax benefits to your estate to remember your favourite registered charity in your will. The only request is that you provide a simple declaration form to the charity so it can evaluate the program.

For members of the public, an offer by your favourite charity to pay the cost of your simple will is a great motivator to actually get your estate plan in order. For the lawyer, there is twofold benefit. The lawyer has made contact with new clients in the community and can build a relationship for future legal needs. There is also the benefit of giving back, by being involved in the Canadian Free Wills Network to both address the ongoing challenge of making legal services available and affordable to the public, and to participate in a highly innovative program that is motivated by philanthropy and helping others.

Perhaps a good start to the new year would be to call your favourite charity and see if they participate in the Canadian Free Wills Network. The goal of the Network is to have a participating lawyer in every community. In this respect, I plan to participate and I hope other lawyers in the community will join if they have not yet done so.

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This is a wonderfully, innovative concept. I am so inspired. As we all spin through our fast-paced lives, covering off all our obligations, plans, hopes, dreams, and joyful times now and in future (in whatever order they present) we also must identify the things that we procrastinate about. Making a will. Chris and I had such a dear friend, an outstanding crown attorney, and wonderful father and husband. As we lamented he and his family moving away from us, and the house-next-door back in Leaside … he smiled, and reminded us that “everything has a beginning and an end”. When Tom passed away, sadly, at a young age – leaving two great kids – those words came back to us again, and again. He did not fear his future, nor did he lament any moment of his life. He treasured his life, his past, his wife, children, and his good fortune. Tom simply accepted his very own words. This is a remarkable project, allowing all of us to accept what will be, and take one step forward. Embrace such a concept as is outlined in this project, and consider your charitable wishes. “Beginnings and ends” = beginnings and the future.

Thank you, Martin, for your inspirational article.

“Law profession is not a service industry its nation building” – Sir Chhotu Ram
Its encouraging to know that Beaches law firms are offering will writing services to those who support Canadian charities. A will is a legal document stating how your money and property will be distributed after you die. It is a must for every person to have a written will irrespective of his/her social and financial status because it allows you to communicate your wishes about your funeral/cremation arrangements etc. and make things easier for the people you care about. If you need free attestation of documents or free notarization of your self-prepared will or a simple will prepared free of charge for you please find me in or around Beaches Library during week days or email me to set time for meeting at I will consider myself fortunate to serve you. Thanks.
Mark Dahiya, M.A., LL.B., Street Lawyer,
City Law Centre, In pursuit of justice for the homeless

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