Does the COVID-19 pandemic have you thinking about your health and future, or the future of your loved ones? You’re not alone – it makes a lot of sense to prepare or update a will under the current circumstances. In order to safeguard British Columbians who wish to make changes to their wills, a change in the law now allows wills to be witnessed remotely. Today we’ll be discussing how to prepare a valid will during COVID-19 while remaining safe.
Why should you have a Wills and Estate Plan?
During this time of uncertainty, having a will and estate plan in place will ensure that your loved ones are taken care of, should the worst happen.
Whether or not you’re writing a will for the first time, or updating an old will, If you have any kind of assets or dependents it’s imperative that you have a will that reflects your current
circumstances and wishes.
What’s the difference between a will and an estate plan?
Signing and witnessing remotely
A recent change in the law now allows BC residents to have their wills witnessed remotely. In the past, it was a requirement that you had two witnesses physically present to watch you sign your will in order for it to be considered valid. Now, the electronic presence of your witnesses is enough for it to be valid, so long as you meet the requirements.
Requirements of an electronic signing:
- It’s required that you use reliable audiovisual communication technology that allows you to hear and see each other.
- You must be able to communicate concurrently as if you were all physically present at the same location and time.
- You must sign and complete two identical copies of the will.
A video conferencing call service like Zoom will allow you to virtually gather and meet the requirements mentioned above.
Tip: If you’re worried about someone questioning the validity of your will, then ensure you make an electronic recording of the signing as this could be used as evidence in the future.
Signing and witnessing in person during COVID-19
If it’s your preference to sign and witness your will and estate plan in person, then this is still a possibility. It just requires a few safety measures. We’ve compiled a few tips on how to safely meet, witness and sign legal documents during the pandemic:
- Each person should sanitize their hands before and after signing the document
- Each person meeting should wear a mask
- Everyone should bring their own pens
- Each person should stay 2 metres apart throughout the meeting
- If possible, meet outside
We strongly advise against trying to write your own will or using a template as it could lead to costly mistakes that your family is left to deal with.
At Benchmark Law, we can facilitate professional will and estate planning to ensure your assets and family are protected. Please contact our team to get started.