Remote Signing of Estate Planning Documents During the Pandemic
With the involvement of such critically important documents for estate planning, it is to no one’s surprise that the formalities as required by the Wills and Succession Act, Personal Directives Act and Powers of Attorney Act, surrounding the signing and witnessing of these documents are particularly stringent.
Normally a Will, a Personal Directive and a Power of Attorney, the three standard estate planning documents, must be signed in the immediate presence of a witness, and in the case of a Will, multiple witnesses. There are also some rules about who is eligible to act as witness in order for these estate planning documents to be valid.
Some of the strict requirements remain, but temporarily, according to Ministerial Order 39/2020 issued by Alberta’s Minister of Justice, individuals and their lawyers can now execute Wills, Personal Directives and Powers of Attorney via video conferencing such as Zoom or Skype, to account for circumstances where it is not possible or medically safe for a maker, donor or testator to physically attend before a lawyer and sign a Personal Directive or Power of Attorney in the presence of a witness or a Will in the presence of two witnesses.
This Ministerial Order is temporary and could be revoked at any time. So, if you’re thinking about getting your estate planning done but have put your Will on “hold” until the pandemic has passed, it can now be completed without ever having to meet with a lawyer in person.
Now is as good as time as any to allow us to help you put together all the estate planning documents you should need. Contact any one of our very experienced estate planning lawyers now for help with your Will, Personal Directive or Enduring Power of Attorney.