On April 7th, the Government of Ontario passed an emergency order permitting wills and powers of attorney to be witnessed using video conferencing technology, a welcome concession during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Accordingly, whether you are in the midst of the estate process with us, or considering whether you should prepare or update your wills and powers of attorney, you can take comfort in knowing that you can complete this process without compromising the rules of social distancing, in six simple steps or less.
Here’s how it works:
- Your lawyer would send you your documents by email to print, or by mail, if you don’t have a printer at home.
- Your lawyer would set up a virtual meeting using audio-visual communication technology (such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or Microsoft Teams) among you, your lawyer (note that one of the witnesses must be a lawyer or licenced paralegal), and a second independent witness, being another member of our firm, or the spouse or other eligible adult in the lawyer’s household. During the virtual meeting, you would angle your webcam to enable both witnesses to see you sign your will(s) and powers of attorney.
- You would place your executed documents into an envelope and send it to your lawyer by courier, mail or hand delivery.
- Once received by your lawyer, he or she would set up a second virtual meeting among the three parties. During this virtual meeting, your lawyer would angle their webcam to enable you and the second witness (if not in the lawyer’s physical presence) to see him or her sign your will(s) and powers of attorney as witness. If the second witness is in the physical presence of your lawyer, he or she would also sign as witness during this virtual meeting.
- If the second witness is not in the physical presence of your lawyer, then steps 3 and 4 would be repeated to enable the second witness to receive the original documents and sign them as witness in the presence of you and your lawyer.
- The second witness (or your lawyer, if he or she resides with the second witness) would place the executed and fully witnessed documents in an envelope and send it by courier or hand delivery to our offices, where they would be deposited into our vault for safekeeping.
Please reach out to the estate lawyers at Mills & Mills LLP with all of your estate planning, estate administration, and estate litigation questions. Although our physical offices are closed, we are continuing to work remotely to serve the needs of our clients and the public. Please reach out to us at 416-863-0125 or contact us online.
For the other post in this series, see the link below:
Part One: Alternative Measures