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From Angus Reid Institute

Half of Canadians say they don’t have a last will and testament

One-quarter who haven’t written a will say they’re too young to worry about it, others cite lack of assets

March 7, 2023 – In 1948, Cecil George Harris suffered a tragic mishap while plowing his fields near Rosetown, Sask. He became pinned under his tractor. Fearing he wouldn’t make it, he etched “In case I die in this mess I leave all to the wife. Cecil Geo Harris.” He died the next day, and the tractor etching was accepted as a valid handwritten will. The case set a famous precedent for lawyers the world over.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds 50 per cent of Canadians in a similar boat as Harris before his tragic accident. Half of adults in this country say they don’t have a last will and testament; a proportion that remains consistent since ARI surveyed on this subject five years ago.

As one might expect, younger Canadians are less likely to have one. Four in five Canadians younger than 35 say they do not have a will, but even half of those between the ages of 45 and 54 say the same.

It appears age is not the only factor in play when it comes to which Canadians do not have a will. Those living in lower-income households are less likely to say they have taken this step and a lack of assets to worry about is a much more common reason. Those whose household incomes are below $100,000 are twice as likely as those above that mark to say they simply lack the assets that would push them to write a will.

Survey Methodology

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, 2023 among a representative randomized sample of 1,610 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here

To read the questionnaire in English and French, click here.

Image –Romain Dancre /Unsplash

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From the Angus Reid Institute, Canada’s non-profit foundation committed to independent research.

For detailed breakdown of the results, visit

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