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Mystery of why people who make a will live longer

(NC)—Could making a will help you live longer? Could donating to charity add years to your life?

While it might not seem possible to definitively answer those questions, research has shown that people who make a will do live longer and that people who donate to charity live longer lives too. But this is not quite the same as saying that living a longer life is a direct effect of making a will or by charitable giving.

“It's really a mystery that we can't explain,” says Heather Warren, a Gift Planner at the human rights charity Amnesty International. “It may be that making a will brings peace of mind and reduces anxiety, which adds time to a person's life. But it could just be that people who make wills tend to lead healthier lives than people who never get around to estate planning.”

Warren goes on to say that there are plenty of other good reasons to make a will apart from wishing for a longer life.

“Making a will ensures your wealth will be distributed as you wish after you're gone,” she says. “A will also spares complications and hardship for your loved ones. And remembering your favourite charity in your will is a powerful and simple way to leave a legacy to a good cause.”

Despite all the good reasons for having a will, it would seem that many of us have yet to do so. It's been estimated that more than half of adult Canadians have yet to make a will. Many wrongly believe that a making a will is complicated and expensive.

“It's best to use a lawyer to make sure your will is properly drawn up,” says Warren. “But making a will is easier and more affordable than you might think.”

A free information package on what to include in wills is available from Amnesty International at 312 Laurier Avenue East, Suite 250, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 1H9.

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