How Was Born was born in 1997 after the first Ontario Make a Will Week campaign. I was founding chair of this Ontario program that ran November 17–23, 1997. Lawyers across Ontario were involved. At that time, only 39.8% of adult Ontario residents had a lawyer-prepared will (Decima Research, August 1997.)

Their aim was to raise public awareness through free estate planning seminars funded by sponsors. Lawyers provided free consultations about the importance of having wills and charitable gift-giving benefits.

Participants included charitable organizations, accountants, a life insurance and a trust company. Seminars were conducted throughout the province. Speakers discussed estate planning, the benefits of gift and tax planning, life insurance and using professional executors.

In the late 1990s, I did not use the internet. There was no Facebook or social media. Instead, the campaign used fax machines, posters, and distributed printed estate planning kits. Volunteers helped organize logistics of province-wide seminars. Committees prepared scripts and information for release. Professional organizers were hired. They started a media campaign. This was to contact media outlets to promote events. This encouraged more media coverage.

My Focus on Estates

Since 1990, I had been teaching the estate planning course to law candidates who sat exams for admission to the Ontario Bar.

I had written an estate planning guide and approached publishers to publish it. I wrote it for consumers purely on speculation. The last publisher I contacted, however, offered me another option with a tight deadline. The Canadian publisher was looking for a lawyer to produce a Canadian edition of Steve Maple’s Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wills and Estates. They needed someone to create a Canadian edition within 30 days. Time was running out.

Wills and Estates for Canadians

The book I was to revise was over 300 pages and had 24 chapters based on American estate laws. I was told I only had to replace American terms with Canadian ones, like replacing college with university. Everyone thought it was as simple as that. But this was not correct.

I was an associate member of the American Bar Association and an executive member of the Ontario Bar Association’s Estates & Trusts section. I looked forward to the challenge. I told the publisher I could co-write the Canadian version – on one condition.

I could not submit a manuscript in 30 days. I had to do it in 29 days. Why? Because on the 30th day I was speaking at the launch of the Make a Will Week campaign.

The publishing team said that no one ever brought a book in on time. If I brought my manuscript in early, they said they would need to rename their building after me.

American and Canadian Estate Law is Different

Estate law in the United States is different from Canadian estate law. Americans have gift taxes and estate inheritance taxes. Probate and power of attorney laws are different in each state. Retirement planning was important to qualify for Medicare. Family laws varied in each state and affected what you could do in wills. Trust planning to avoid probating wills was common.

I rewrote several chapters for Canadian content. One advantage of a large publisher is their marketing ability. They had a national marketing campaign for the Canadian edition of the book. I spoke on radio shows across Canada. I later toured Canada and became a member of the Canadian and American Speakers Association (CAPS). Dottie Waters became one of my speaking mentors. The late John Plank was my speech coach.

While I was doing this, I got hooked on an internet marketing course at York University. In those days, everyone thought if you set up a website you could just sit back. Money would start pouring like in the gold rush days. You would spend the rest of your days counting it.

Unfortunately, this was all hype.

I was told the trick was to have a good domain name. It had to be one that people could remember and spell. That is how was born and my writing addiction started.

Check out my free reports:

How to Avoid the Worst Financial Blunder You Can Make When Preparing Your Will

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Suddenly You’re An Ontario Executor Start Your Executor Journey Here

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End Estate Lawsuits with These Simple Secrets

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