Make-a-Will Week 2015

April 6 – 12, 2015 marks Make-a-Will Week in British Columbia. Its purpose is to encourage the public to have a Will prepared or bring an existing Will up-to-date.

Do you own your home? Are you married or in a long-term relationship? Do you have children? Grandchildren? Do you own a business? Do you want to support your favourite charities? If you answered yes to any of these questions – you should ensure you have a current Will in place.

Make-a-Will Week 2015

If you don’t have a Will, you aren’t alone. According to a 2014 report for BC Notaries, just 55 per cent of British Columbians have a signed, legally valid and up-to-date Will. Perhaps not surprising, this number falls to just 20 per cent for those aged 18 to 34. And yet, this is a time when many of us face significant life events where it is important to have a Will, including starting a career, getting married or buying real estate. 

Make-a-Will Week 2014 coincided with the Wills, Estate and Succession Act (WESA) coming into force on March 31, 2014. WESA does not invalidate Wills written before March 31, 2014. However, some of the laws about interpreting Wills have changed, so individuals may wish to review their existing Will with their advisors to make sure their wishes can be upheld. With the introduction of WESA, there is an added reason to ensure your Will is up to date, or if you haven’t yet made a Will, to go to a lawyer or notary public to have one made.

A Will is the best way to ensure that the people, charities and organizations you cherish most receive the benefit of your estate.

If you die without a Will, your estate may not be distributed in the way you would have wished and the costs of administering your estate may also be higher. Having a Will helps ensure that important questions for parents – like who will raise your young children if both you and your spouse die – are answered. 

A Will is also the simplest way to provide for gifts to your charities of choice.

Anyone who can make a Will can make a gift to charity. You can start fresh or you can add a provision to an existing Will by signing a codicil. 

You might set aside a certain dollar amount or leave a percentage of your estate or any assets left over after you have provided for your family. If you want to designate your gift for a specific purpose, it is best to check with the charity to get the specific wording to ensure your wishes are met.

Your gift is revocable – you can alter the terms as your circumstances change. This gives you some flexibility in planning your financial matters because the gift is not received until your estate is settled.  

Make sure the name of the charity is correct in your Will – ask the charity for the legal name. Canada Revenue Agency’s website has a list of all registered charities in Canada and helpful information about donating to charities.

There are other ways to give through estate planning using assets such as an existing or new life insurance policy, or proceeds from your registered retirement savings plan, registered retirement income fund or tax free savings account. These gifts involve designating the charity as a beneficiary of the policy or plan and can result in significant tax benefits to you.

How we can help

Here at the Victoria Foundation, we are happy to help you explore options for supporting the community. Whether you wish to provide for a permanent fund, a term fund, or an outright gift to your chosen charities, we will work with you to ensure your wishes are honoured – for today and for the future.

Visit our Giving page or, for more information, contact Sara Neely, Director of Philanthropic Services at the Victoria Foundation at 250.381.5532 or

Other resources

Check here for more information about the many partners in the Make-a-Will Week initiative including the Leave a Legacy program offered through the Canadian Association of Gift Planners.

The BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association is offering these free public programs to help you get started:  

  • Dial A Law – information available 24/7 in many areas of the law including Wills & Trusts
  • Dial A Lawyer Day is Saturday April 18th – call toll-free and speak with a lawyer for up to 15 minutes regarding your Wills & Trusts questions
  • Wills Resources from Courthouse Libraries