Remote/Virtual Witnessing of Wills and Powers of Attorney
The Ontario government has authorized the remote witnessing of wills. The key limitation is that one of your witnesses has to be either a lawyer or paralegal licensed by the Law Society of Ontario.
The full text of the Order [English only] is below, and can be found [in original, bilingual version] here:
Order in Council
On the recommendation of the undersigned, the Lieutenant Governor, by and with the advice and concurrence of the Executive Council, orders that:
the appended Regulation be made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
Recommended by [Premier, and Chair of Cabinet]
Approved and Ordered April 7, 2020, 5:15 p.m.
[Signed by the Lieutenant Governor]
made under the
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND CIVIL PROTECTION ACT
ORDER UNDER SUBSECTION 7.0.2 (4) OF THE ACT- SIGNATURES IN WILLS AND POWERS OF ATTORNEY
Whereas an emergency was declared pursuant to Order in Council 518/2020 (Ontario Regulation 50/20) on March 17, 2020 at 7:30 a.m. Toronto time pursuant to section 7 .0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (the “Act”) and has been extended pursuant to section 7.0.7 of the Act;
And Whereas the criteria set out in subsection 7.0.2 (2) of the Act have been satisfied;
Now Therefore, this Order is made pursuant to subsection 7.0.2 (4) of the Act, in particular paragraphs 12 and 14 of that subsection, the terms of which are set out in Schedule 1;
And Further, this Order applies generally throughout Ontario;
And Further, this Order shall be in effect for the duration of the declared emergency, subject to section 7.0.8 of the Act.
SIGNATURES IN WILLS AND POWERS OF ATTORNEY
- For the duration of the emergency, a requirement under the Succession Law Reform Act that a testator or witnesses be present or in each other’s presence for the making or acknowledgment of a signature on a will or for the subscribing of a will may be satisfied by means of audio-visual communication technology provided that at least one person who is providing services as a witness is a licensee within the meaning of the Law Society Act at the time of the making, acknowledgment or subscribing.
Powers of attorney
- For the duration of the emergency, a requirement under the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 that witnesses be present for the execution of a power of attorney may be satisfied by means of audio-visual communication technology provided that at least one person who is providing services as a witness is a licensee within the meaning of the Law Society Act at the time of the execution.
- In this Order, “audio-visual communication technology” means any electronic method of communication in which participants are able to see, hear and communicate with each other in real time.