Toronto’s Willful Wants Canadians to Talk About Death

Kevin Oulds has confronted death twice and that inspired him to launch Willful, an online platform that drafts legally-binding wills in less than 20 minutes.

Lying in a hospital bed for seven days with septic arthritis in his ankle, Oulds said he had a lot of time to think about what would happen if he died.

Years later, a ten-car accident had Oulds wrapping a tourniquet around a man’s severed leg on the side of the road as he asked Oulds to pass along goodbye message to his family.

The sudden passing of his uncle was the final push for Oulds to launch the online will-generating platform.

“It’s hard to get people to talk about death. It’s not something people want to do,” said Oulds, the founder and CEO of Willful. “People need to have the death talk. They put it off for so long and are forced to deal with it when someone unexpectedly passes away.”

The Toronto-based company is targeting Canadians who don’t have a will—nearly 56 per cent, according to a LawPro study. Willful’s digitally-created will circumvents the expensive and timely option of sitting down with lawyers to sort end-of-life arrangements, a barrier that has stopped many Canadians from setting up a will.

“The majority of Canadian adults don’t have a will, which leaves families unprepared in the case of a death, whether it’s expected or not. We created Willful with families in mind, and designed it to be simple and straightforward so that planning for the future doesn’t have to be a pain,” said Oulds.

Through conversations with people his age, Oulds realized that most young adults don’t have wills, deterred by both the legal jargon and the high cost of lawyers.

Willful developed a suite of products tapping three estate lawyers for guidance: wills (including living wills), power of attorney for personal care, and power of attorney for property. They start at $99 for one person, and up to $250 for a mirrored will for couples, and come with unlimited document edits. Traditional wills can run Canadians anywhere from $300 to $1,200.

“As we launched, we realized we need to educate people too. They don’t know where to start. We need to show them what to do, but it’s not as hard as people think,” said Oulds.

While Willful is currently only available to people living in Ontario, Oulds said he’s looking to expand Willful to Alberta and British Columbia in early 2018.

Willful isn’t Oulds’ only company that tackles the uncomfortable topic of death. He launched Final Blueprint that guides Canadians through end-of-life planning in 2015.