In April of last year, Suzana Popovic-Montag wrote a blog about Axess Law (“Axess”), which opened up shop providing legal services, including will drafting, in three Greater Toronto Area Walmart stores. Since then, Axess has expanded its practice, attracting attention from customers, the legal media and other practitioners.

Not only have there been articles published on Advocate Daily and Precedent Magazine’s website, the Advocate Daily’s post on LinkedIn has also attracted comments and discussion among lawyers.

Axess founders Mark Morris and Lena Koke opened its first Walmart location in June of 2013. They have now launched a total of eight Axess branches within Walmart stores.

A noteworthy part of Axess’ practice is their $99 will drafting service, which takes approximately one hour of the lawyer’s time. This price tag is well below the average lawyer’s going rate. The combination of affordability and convenience makes this an attractive option for busy people with moderate means.

As Suzana points out (as quoted in Precedent’s article) “in cases where people don’t need substantial advice, a $99 will from Axess Law is ‘the perfect solution’”. The lawyer oversight provides an edge over the use of will kit packages, which can be found online and have also been sold at Walmart stores.

Of course, this kind of speedy will drafting service has its restrictions. At Axess, if will requests are too complex to fit into the one-hour time frame, the customer will be referred to another firm. For more complex estates, planning can be a more onerous endeavour, and a $99 price tag is unlikely to go far enough in ensuring the lawyer can diligently satisfy all drafting obligations.

Concern has arisen among the legal community over situations in which a seemingly “simple” estate turns out not to be. While Axess has software designed to guide lawyers through any and all testator questions with clients, each situation is unique and needs may vary. Depending on testator answers along the way, lawyers may need to ask follow up questions or dig a little deeper into a topic that raises concern. At a $99 rate, however, digging deeper may not be feasible, which in turn could translate to running the risk of trouble down the line.

We often drive home the importance of having a will. If it is a lack of resources or accessibility holding people back, Axess may be one solution to enable individuals to organize their affairs and sleep soundly.

Thank you for reading,

Ian Hull