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Ontario and British Columbia Governments Approve Virtual Witnessing during COVID-19

UPDATED: Ontario and British Columbia Governments Approve Virtual Witnessing during COVID-19

As of May 20th, British Columbia is the latest province in Canada to issue an emergency order allowing for the virtual witnessing of wills during COVID-19. B.C. is the second province, joining Ontario, to permit virtual witnessing, a step that will help thousands of people have their documents safely witnessed while social distancing.

The government of Ontario announced April 7th that it will allow the virtual witnessing of wills for the duration of the province’s COVID-19 state of emergency. On April 22nd, they issued updates to the emergency order which included clarifications that help simplify the virtual witnessing process.

The emergency orders in both British Columbia and Ontario, allow people to get their will witnessed via live video call, with at least one of those witnesses required to be a provincially-licensed notary, paralegal or lawyer. Witnesses have to sign printed, physical documents - they can’t sign virtually. In British Columbia, there is the additional requirement that the will and Power of Attorney documents include a statement that it was signed and witnessed in accordance with this order.

What does this mean for Willful customers?

We’ve partnered with Notary Pro to help Willful customers in Ontario and British Columbia get their documents virtually witnessed while social distancing. This virtual process is permitted by the Law Society of Ontario and Law Society of British Columbia and involves uploading your documents and ID, signing your will on video conference, your witnesses signing a copy of your will during the video call, and Notary Pro mailing the signed copy of your will back to you (your copy and the signed witness copies should be stored together). We’ve outlined the process details here and Notary Pro has done the same here.

Notary Pro has made the process as easy as possible and is offering special pricing for Willful customers that provides savings off their regular prices. If you are located in Toronto, Ottawa or London, Notary Pro also has local locations where you can pick up your documents to save on the cost and time of mailing.

If the regulations change, we will be sure to promptly update the process with Notary Pro. As always, please feel free to reach out to us via live chat, email or phone if you have any questions or concerns.

I don’t live in Ontario or British Columbia - can I get my will virtually witnessed?

So far Ontario and British Columbia are the only provinces to allow virtual witnessing, but we expect other provinces to follow suit. We’ll keep you updated as we find out additional details.

Whether you’re in Ontario, British Columbia or another province, watch your email inbox for more details as we have them, and in the meantime, you can follow the rest of these tips to get your will finalized during COVID.