In-person or online will-making? You decide!

It’s always great to have options, and recent developments have given our clients fresh choices when it comes to how they draw up their estate plans. 

One of the better side-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the establishment of virtual wills in Ontario. When the first lockdown confined us all to our homes in the spring of 2020, the provincial government came up with emergency rules allowing testators to have their wills witnessed remotely, without the need to meet in person with their lawyer.

Since then, the passage at Queen’s Park of Bill 245, the Accelerating Access to Justice Act, has made virtual wills a permanent feature of Ontario’s estates law.

The current rules mean a will witnessed via audio-visual communication technology will be valid, as long as one of the two witnesses is a licensee of the Law Society of Ontario and the app used allows participants to see, hear and speak with each other in real time.

In our office, we have enthusiastically embraced the possibilities presented by the new rules, as we do any technological advance that makes legal assistance more accessible and affordable for all. 

I also know my clients have certainly appreciated the opportunity to get their affairs in order in these difficult times. Still, online execution of wills is far from perfect, since the whole process remains a little cumbersome. 

Believe it or not, a remote witnessing actually uses even more paper than a conventional signing, because you’ve usually got three people on a call, often in different locations. Each person involved initials and signs their own counterpart documents, which must then be brought together for filing, tripling the size of even the most straightforward will.

For those interested in a more old-school approach to the execution of testamentary documents, loosening Covid restrictions have allowed lawyers to return to in-person meetings with clients who are comfortable.

Some may prefer a hybrid approach – meeting virtually with their lawyer for the initial consultation or to explain what they want covered in their will, before completing the witnessing in person at the office.  

Whenever you’re ready to put your estate plans into writing, we’ll help you find the way that works best.

Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this website are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting members of Laredo Law (or their own legal counsel) regarding any specific legal issues.

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