Wills Week

Willpower Wills Week is a series of free presentations that help Edmonton and area residents learn the value of creating and maintaining an up-to-date will.

Every October, we partner with a dedicated team of volunteer estate lawyers to answer your questions about will and estate planning. Wills Week sessions are free of charge to the public and offer information about:

  • Creating and/or updating a will,
  • What a will can and cannot do,
  • How a will can help save taxes for both you and your estate, and
  • Why it is so important to have a will prepared with the help and expertise of a lawyer, accountant, and financial and estate planner.

Having a valid, up-to-date will ensures you determine who:

  • Gets what from your hard-earned assets,
  • Will administer your estate, and
  • Will be guardians of your dependent children.

After family and loved ones are taken care of, many people choose to create a lasting legacy in their community. A will intention is a great way to do this.

Research shows that 98% of Canadians make donations in their life. Planning for a legacy gift in your will ensures that your dreams and aspirations for the community continue beyond your lifetime. Working with ECF can help individuals and families build funds that reflect their interests.

Wills Week 2020

This year, Wills Week ran online from October 5-9. We will be posting recorded versions of the sessions soon. You can find them in the dropdown menu below and we will be posting them as they become available. You can find our glossary of terms here and the latest issue of the Late Edition here. We thank the volunteers who present Wills Week each year. You can find a list of this year’s volunteers here. Please note that the following videos have been edited for time and clarity.

Hosted by:

Michael Simons, Partner, McCuaig Desrochers LLP

Allison Barkwell, Partner, Barkwell Brown Estate & Tax Lawyers

Seasoned lawyers will pull back the curtain on what happens when people fail to plan, or worse, mistake their Google search for a law degree! Hearing what can go horribly wrong might be just what you need to make good decisions and finally get your estate plan in place. These panelists will compete with each other to see who can “one-up” the other with true stories that are certainly stranger than fiction!

Hosted by: Colleen Feehan, Feehan Law Office

Let’s define your legacy goals and discuss how to achieve them most effectively! This session provides a general overview of things to keep in mind when preparing your estate plan and addresses common questions for wills, and for other documents that affect your estate. Even if you are planning to participate in one of the other sessions, this overview provides great context and groundwork to better understand the adjustments necessary to address the specific issues those other sessions will cover.


Hosted by: Victoria Jones, BA, LLB, MA, de Villars Jones

You think you have your estate figured out? Well hold on! Who is going to deal with everything you leave behind? What sort of job is being an executor? Who should you appoint to do the job? What are the less known complications of appointing certain people? What options are available? Tune in to this session to get answers to all of these questions and more.

Hosted by: Patty Ko, B.Comm., LLB, Associate, Bishop & MacKenzie LLP

Every family has its own story and challenges – and blended families are certainly no exception. In this session, we will explore some of the unique circumstances that blended families face and the impact that those circumstances may have on wills and estate planning.

Hosted by: Jacklynn Pivovar, LLB, Partner, Miller Thomson LLP

In this presentation you will learn about how some estate claims arise and how to avoid them. This includes information about the formal requirements for a valid will, the use of will kits, family support claims, property owned jointly with someone else and how things like “capacity” and “undue influence” may affect the intention of a person making a will. You will learn about the potential problems often seen in estate disputes and how to avoid them before they happen.


Hosted by: Michelle Coleman, CPA, CA, TEP, Sr. Manager, Taxation Services, MNP

When writing/updating your will, you will want to be sure to plan for the impact taxes will have.

Planning to reduce or defer taxes is an essential part of estate planning and administration. You will want to contemplate the potential tax liability, how it will be paid, and also provide your executor(s) with the tools and flexibility they need to prepare the tax returns and administer the estate in a tax-effective and efficient manner. This presentation will address many commonly asked questions and will present tax planning options for you to discuss with your family and advisors.

Hosted by: Noel Xavier and Kathy Hawkesworth

In addition to your family, what has brought you joy during your lifetime (e.g. arts, education, nature, recreation)? Are there any issues that you would love to help solve (e.g. health condition, poverty, environment)? Have any organizations helped you or a loved one? Your will and estate plan offer you an unrivalled opportunity to create your legacy of caring for the causes and issues important to you and save significant taxes. You may have one or more favourite charities but have no idea how to support something very important to you. This presentation will address ways to make a meaningful difference while providing generously for your family. Tools will be provided to help you think through what type of legacy plan will give you a sense of satisfaction and adjust to changes over time and ways to get started.

Hosted by: Ravinder Chana, JD, Parlee McLaws LLP

Said by some to be the best gift you can give your family, this is an introductory presentation on the importance of two documents that help you and your family during your lifetime. This is especially important if you are temporarily or permanently unable to act for yourself. This presentation will explain what an Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive are, how they differ, how they come into effect and the consequences of not having them in place. It will also touch on potential issues and problems that can arise or be avoided and the importance of receiving legal advice when obtaining these documents.

Hosted by: Anna May Choles, LLB, Rackel Belzil LLP

A will can be valid without being good. You aren’t paying for a “thing” when you pay for a will, you are paying for advice, good questions, and effective writing to make a better will. This session will consider some of the common mistakes and assumptions that people make when creating a will; covering topics such as formal requirement for a will to be valid, who are not good choices for witnesses and/or executors, property that you cannot give away in a will, wills that don’t “add up” and who you must include in your estate plans, to name just a few.

Hosted by: Shelly K. Chamaschuk, BSc, LLB, TEP Partner, Reynolds Mirth Richards and Farmer LLP

Estate planning can be a daunting task for anyone but planning when one of your loved ones is a person with a disability or has special needs, is particularly difficult. This presentation will discuss a number of tools available to families whose plans involve a beneficiary who is disabled. We will also discuss the applicable AISH rules, use of RDSPs, and the role of discretionary trusts (also called Henson Trusts).


To learn more about Wills Week and how to leave a lasting legacy contact our Donor Services Team by phone at 780-426-0015 or via email at donorservices@ecfoundation.org


The information contained in the preceding recordings is based on Alberta law and is for general information only and to encourage you to ACT — to get professional assistance to get a good and valid will, personal directive and enduring power of attorney in place to protect your family, your assets and your business.

The information in these recordings is NOT legal or tax advice and does not replace legal or tax advice. Every person has a unique situation. For legal advice about your situation and/or to prepare these important documents make sure to visit a wills & estates lawyer.