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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,

  1. The original Will must be physically signed by all three participants (testator and two witnesses) on the same document.
  2. Digital signatures are not permitted.
  3. Likely two separate affidavits of execution, one from each witness, will be necessary.
  4. 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:

  1. Will Execution by Video Checklist
  2. PoA Execution by Video Checklist 

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.

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