Desirae Jeannotte Notary Public was named the best wills and estate planning firm in British Columbia this month, nominated from 450 notaries operating in the province.

Owner Desirae Jeannotte was born and raised in Fort St. John and says she’s flattered to receive the award from Corporate Vision’s Canadian Business Awards. The business has been practicing for five years, opening its doors in 2016.

“Lots of people know a little bit about estate planning through the news, through TV shows, which are usually American, and through stories – so friends of friends, so I find just sharing the actual facts and the law about estate planning is really important,” says Jeannotte. “Lots of people come in and say they’ve been thinking about it for ten years.”

Jeannotte says she really enjoys helping residents navigate the law, which is a huge relief for most.

“I think the biggest thing that people need to understand is that it’s not scary, it’s not complicated, and the process, most of my clients when we’ve finished signing the will, they take a deep breath and say, ‘That wasn’t that bad’. I think there’s some roadblocks because people are worried about talking about death,” she says.

Jeannotte’s notary offers a two-step process – sitting down for a chat with her clients about their lives and assets, and planning the estate or will.

“I feel really connected with my clients and we want to provide a really personable service,” says Jeannotte.

She adds that nearly any age is a good time to start a will or estate planning, but notes that it’s more important to consider it after any big life milestone – getting married, buying your first home, or having kids.

“I think our generation is slow on getting estate planning in place. Everyone feels pretty invincible, but our parents’ generation was different, they had their wills done the day after child number one was born,” says Jeannotte. “The notary society did a study about five years ago and found that 50 per cent did and 50 per cent didn’t.”

Fort St. John has a relatively young population, says Jeannotte, with young adults often hitting those milestones earlier than others. But residents of all ages make use of their services, she adds, and are grateful for the one-on-one conversations and help with the process.