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Electronic Signing for Estate Planning Documents

firm updates Jun 05, 2020

In light of COVID-19 and the safety measures that have been put in place by the Government of Alberta, social interactions have been limited to circumstances that are considered “essential.” There are various different ways in which we risk contracting the virus – and for our older clients, self-isolation comes highly recommended. So, what happens when you need to create/update your Will? Our office has continued to administer signing appointments, and we have strict measures in place to ensure the safety of both staff and clients. As mindful as we are, it is impossible to eliminate the risk of the novel coronavirus entirely.

To alleviate some of this fear, we are pleased to share Ministerial Order 39/20, which was issued on May 15, 2020. The Order states that “it is in the public interest” to allow electronic signing of estate planning documents “because there may be 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, during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Persons are deemed to be in each other’s presence while connected to each other by an electronic method of communication in which they are able to see, hear and communicate with each other in real time.” To abide by the aforementioned guidelines, our office will be hosting video conference calls which will be administered via the software application, Zoom. The presence of two witnesses is required when signing wills with a testator, whereas only one witness is required when signing a power of attorney with a donor and a personal directive with a maker.

Please note that these electronic signing measures are temporary; they may be terminated by the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General of the Province of Alberta when it is no longer deemed a public interest. If you wish to have your estate planning documents signed electronically, please contact our office at (780) 458-8228 or at [email protected]. The first step would be to arrange a remote instructions meeting; the signing meeting would occur at a later date.

Questions? Please let us know – we are here to help!

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