By: Wills and Estates Group (special thanks to Jennifer Katz, Student-at-Law for her contribution)
The global Covid-19 pandemic has prompted many individuals to write or change their wills and powers of attorney. Until now, these documents were only legally valid if they were signed in the physical presence of two witnesses – a task which, for most people, has been impossible during quarantine, self-isolation, and social distancing.
Thankfully, the Lieutenant Governor in Council has provided a solution by temporarily amending the legislation that governs the execution of wills and powers of attorney. Individuals can now witness the signing of these documents using audio-video technology in real time, such as Zoom or FaceTime, thereby dispensing with the requirement that they be physically present with the testator. The testator must sign the document in the presence of both witnesses, whether physical or virtual. Each witness must then sign the original document in the presence of the testator – again, either virtual or physical. At least one of the individuals witnessing the document must be a licensee pursuant to the Law Society Act.
Minden Gross LLP can assist and advise you on creating or updating your estate planning documents during these challenging times. If you would like more information or further guidance on the recent legislative amendments, please contact your lawyer at Minden Gross LLP, or any member of our wills and estates team.