Can I Get a Will or Power of Attorney During the Pandemic?
Yes, you can. You can do so while remaining socially-distanced too.
It’s true that in Ontario, Wills and Power of Attorneys require the owner (testator) to sign ‘in the presence of’ two witnesses. This usually means that the testator has to be in the same room as the witnesses. A witness can’t be a spouse, anyone under 18yrs old or someone who stands to inherit under the will; creating a challenge in getting a valid will for those of us who are in self-isolation with loved ones or family during this time. You can check out the Succession Law Reform Act for more details on these requirements.
In light of Covid, the Attorney General has temporarily modified the requirements to make sure that families impacted by the pandemic are able to plan for the worst case scenario in these trying times.
According to the new regulations under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, the ‘in presence of’ requirement has been temporarily expanded to include witnessing the signing using audio video communications. The Will or Power of Attorney still has to be signed by hand, so e-signatures are still not allowed. However, this means that anyone can have their Will or Power of Attorney created while maintaing a safe distance, so those who have been infected by the Coronavirus are able to plan for their future by determining which individual(s) should have the Power of Attorney for Personal Care to make healthcare decisions on their behalf where they are unable to make it themselves, or the Power of Attorney for Property in order to make financial decisions where hospitalization occurs. This also means that anyone who is in fear of losing their lives to this virus can plan for how to care for their loved ones and what will happen to their assets.
How Do I Practically Get a Will or Power of Attorney During this Time?
If you feel like doing it yourself, you can write a Holograph Will.
A Holograph Will is a hand-written and signed will. It has to be in your writing, meaning that if you try to type it then it’s no longer valid. The rule is there to protect against situations where anyone, including well-meaning loved ones make modifications to your will to clarify your wishes. The Holograph Will also requires a full and final disposition of your property. This means that if it at all seems like you were still considering who to give what, or you refer to changes being made later, the court is likely to rule that your Will in invalid. These rules are strictly enforced so if you decide to do it yourself, Always Law suggests you proceed with caution and at least take a look at the Succession Law Reform Act so that you know how to make sure your property actually goes to the people you want it to go to.
Talk to a Lawyer about getting a will done while socially distanced and without ever going into the lawyer’s office.
The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act makes this possible in the time of Covid. Many law firms practicing Wills & Estates now have modified procedures to ensure a valid Will or Power of Attorney can be drafted and executed while maintaining their client’s safety. Always Law has quite a few creative solutions to meet whatever your current situation happens to be. Whether you need a Will or Power of Attorney and you’re currently hospitalized, self-isolating alone or with loved ones, Always Law has the tools and resources in place to make sure you get a valid Will executed. If you’re planning to get a Will or Power of Attorney in this time, contact us.