Millions of Canadians are leaving their legacy open to challenge

New Angus Reid data shows that half of respondents do not have a last will and testament, including many over 55s

Millions of Canadians are leaving their legacy open to challenge
Steve Randall

Dying without making clear what you want to happen to your assets can open up a minefield of confusion, concern, and conflict, so why do so many Canadians leave this to chance?

A new survey from Angus Reid Institute has revealed that half of respondents have not made a last will and testament, including 1 in 5 of those aged 55 and older.

Despite best efforts from professionals and campaigns, the share without a will has remained in line with the Institute’s last poll on this topic five years ago.

The research identified two main reasons why Canadians may not make a will.

Firstly, a quarter of younger people (18-34s) believe that they are too young to do so and 4 in 5 under 35s do not have a will. Among the 35–54-year-olds polled, 10% also believe they are too young, as do 1% of over 55s.

Secondly, a lack of assets is cited by 16% (19% among 35-54s) and those with household incomes below $100,000 are twice as likely as higher earners to say they don’t have assets that make a will worthwhile.

As well as the half of people who don’t have a will, 13% say it is out of date, leaving little more than one third who have an up-to-date statement of intentions for their estate, rising to 49% among 35-54s and to 71% among those aged 65+.

For those aged 54 and above, the main reason for not having an up-to-date will is the belief that it is too expensive, even though there are low-cost and even free services available, although some may be DIY options.

Ten percent of over 35s say they don’t have a will simply because dying is not something they want to think about.