Witnessing Wills and POAs by Video - Now Permitted!
Wills and Powers of Attorney can now be witnessed by video conference.
As you are aware, two witnesses must be “in the presence of” the testator when a typed Will is signed. This has historically required physical presence. The new Emergency Order now confirms that the “presence” may be by “audio-visual communication technology”.
Importantly, at least 1 of the 2 witnesses must be a licensee of the Law Society of Ontario.
In our view,
- The original Will must be physically signed by all three participants (testator and two witnesses) on the same document.
- Digital signatures are not permitted.
- Likely two separate affidavits of execution, one from each witness, will be necessary.
- The Order is not retroactive. Only wills signed from now on using audio-visual communication technology are valid under the Order.
Obviously, no one knows for sure how to do this!
To give some food for thought, we have created a two checklists for consideration in these circumstances:
We are working on a suggested set of affidavits of execution. For e-State Planner Users it will be available as a Template in your e-State Portal. We will also make them available to anyone who wants it shortly.
As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.