According to a new poll, 51 per cent of Canadians do not have a will.

“A significant number say the reason they haven’t written a will is that they’re ‘too young’ to worry about it (25%),” a written statement by the Angus Reid Institute, which conducted the poll, said. “(A)nd almost as many say they don’t have enough assets to make a will worthwhile (23%).”

According to the poll, another eight per cent said that the main reason they don’t have a will is that they “don’t want to think about dying.”

The poll, which posed questions to 1,516 Canadians online, revealed that older Canadians (those over the age of 55) are nearly four times more likely than Canadians between the ages of 18 to 34 to have a will and twice as likely as those aged 35 to 54. Canadians with a household income of more than $100,000 are also much more likely to have a will than others (55 per cent, versus 49 per cent of those earning $50,000 to $99,000 and 44 per cent of those making less than $50,000) while men are more likely to have a will than women (53 per cent versus 46 per cent).

The poll also found that residents of Quebec and British Columbia are the most likely to have wills (58 and 54 per cent) while those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the least likely (42 per cent).

Not having a will, Winnipeg lawyer Lillian MacKenzie says, could leave your family in a bind.

“I think people don’t like dealing with their mortality,” she told CTV Winnipeg. Dying without a will, she added, means that your property will be distributed based on a government-mandated formula -- and that could mean that important people in your life would be left with nothing.

It also isn’t just loved ones that could be left in the lurch: charities often have endowment funds where willed money is banked and the interest is used to support their activities.

“A lot of people do want to give to this community in their will,” United Way Winnipeg president and CEO Connie Walker said. “Those dollars are so important.”

Creating a will, however, usually does not come cheaply, costing anywhere from several hundred dollars to thousands depending on the complexity of your estate. Eighteen per cent of respondents to the poll claimed that expense is what has kept them from getting a will written. But spending that money now could save your family from a major headache once you pass.

That’s something that Rhonda Favreau, who works at Winnipeg’s Elmwood Cemetery, knows all too well.

"Working where I do,” she said, “I see a lot of families in disarray because they don't have anything."

The survey was conducted on December 20 and 21, 2017, among a representative randomized sample of 1,516 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

With a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Jon Hendricks