We previously reported on how the Government of British Columbia responded to COVID-19 by temporarily allowing the remote execution of Wills, setting out the requirements for doing so in a ministerial order that is only applicable so long as the Provincial State of Emergency is in effect (see our previous blog post of June 17, 2020).
We are pleased to advise that the Government of British Columbia introduced legislation last week to make remote execution of Wills a permanent fixture in this province.
If it passes, Bill 21 – 2020 will amend the Wills, Estates, and Succession Act, SBC 2009, c 13 to allow for remote witnessing of Wills. Notably, the proposed legislation also:
- allows for the use of electronic signature, where the ministerial order currently does not; and
- removes the requirement that one of the witnesses to the remote execution of a Will be a lawyer (which is currently required by the ministerial order).
We don’t know at this time whether similar amendments will be made to the legislation governing Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements.
UPDATE: Bill 21 – 2020 became law August 14, 2020. When that happened, certain provisions came into force retroactively (as of March 18, 2020). Others need enabling regulations to be enacted. If you have any questions, contact one of our Wills and estates lawyers. We would be happy to discuss how the law currently in force applies to your situation.