Willing to learn


Will Week helps clear up the complexities of estate planning.
Lawyer Jake Giesbrecht.

Planning your Will and estate can be a daunting prospect. Most people don’t know where to begin. Will Week helps take the confusion out of the equation.

Will Week, a series of free public sessions with professional lawyers, aims to clear up the complexities of Wills and estate planning. The annual week-long program has been taking place since 2004, with support from The Winnipeg Foundation, the Manitoba Bar Association, and the Public Guardian and Trustee of Manitoba.

When Winnipeg lawyer Jake Giesbrecht realized it was his 15th year giving his seminar for Will Week he was shocked — it only felt like his fifth. Time flies when you’re helping demystify a complex subject.

“Will Week is an accessible source for information on really important topics,” Giesbrecht says. “There are few places you can learn the do’s and don’ts of something like power of attorneys at no cost.”

Lawyers like Giesbrecht provide essential information that would be difficult to find anywhere else without charge. During the sessions, attendees learn about power of attorney, health care directives, and how easy it is to leave a legacy gift.

“I was around the table at the professional advisory committee when we were developing Will Week,” says Giesbrecht. “It’s been great to see how many people have been interested and attended since then.”

The professional advisors on that committee saw an opportunity to provide a free education for those who don’t know where to find guidance. Giesbrecht says his presentation hasn’t changed since the very first seminar he gave because the information it provides is so concrete. “The PowerPoint has the exact same background it did 15 years ago,” he jokes.

Presentations also explain what happens if you don’t have a Will, and what to consider when naming a proxy for your health care decisions, in the event that you can’t make your own decisions.

This year, through a special partnership with Royal MTC, attendees at the Will Week session at John Hirsch Mainstage could access discounted tickets to a matinee performance of The Cottage.

Jen Litchfield, the organizer of Will Week, also organizes Creating your Legacy seminars. These seminars are more focused on how to leave a bequest, or gift in your Will, to charity.

“The Creating Your Legacy sessions are an opportunity for people to explore how they might support the community as a personal legacy and how to go about it in a way that is both meaningful and ensures their wishes can be fulfilled,” Litchfield says.

These sessions go over different ways of giving future gifts — like leaving a gift in your Will, designating a charity to receive retirement assets, or giving a life insurance policy, along with what kind of recognition you might want and expect to receive for these types of gifts.

Will Week 2019 sessions, and express sessions took place from April 22 to 27 with more than 750 people registered. The sessions were held in various community hubs all around Winnipeg — covering each quadrant of the city. Stay tuned for more information about Will Week 2020.


Powers of Attorney:

  • A legal document in which one person – the “donor” – gives authority to another person – the “attorney” – to make decisions regarding some or all of the donor’s financial and legal affairs

Health Care Directives:

  • Often referred to as “Living Wills”
  • May name a person or “proxy” who can make health care decisions on your behalf
  • May include your specific wishes regarding health care

Formal Requirements for a Will

  • Document must be in writing
  • Maker of the Will must be over age 18, with some exceptions
  • Will must be dated and signed in presence of two witnesses
  • Maker of the Will must have testamentary capacity

* This above is provided for information only; The Winnipeg Foundation encourages you to seek guidance from a lawyer.


Jen Litchfield, Senior Associate & Counsel – Donor Engagement
204-944-9474 ext. 238
Email Jen

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