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Effects of the pandemic and digital technology on estate planning

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2022 | Estate Planning

The global health situation coupled with the age of digitization has changed the way the world works in many respects. Ontario residents who are thinking about estate planning can now complete important documents without the need for face-to-face contact. In many ways, this has cut down the time it takes to create a comprehensive estate plan.

Signing on the dotted line — or not?

Before the global health events of 2020, legal documents could only be executed when witnesses were physically present. Most provinces, Ontario included, invoked measures allowing wills and powers of attorney to be remotely witnessed via videoconference on platforms such as Zoom and Skype. It is still unsure how many provinces will make these provisions permanent, or whether electronic wills will be introduced and which would have electronic signatures.

Photo evidence alone proves sufficient

A court in another province recently accepted photographic evidence of handwritten instructions written by a testator regarding changes he wanted to make to his will and beneficiaries. The notes, found on the testator’s bedside table in the hospital, were photographed by a relative. The testator died in the hospital before being able to make those formal changes to his will, but the court deemed the photos showed the notes to be written in the man’s hand and were an accurate representation of the man’s wishes.

Seeking help and support for these challenges

The pandemic is hopefully now getting close to the end. But these examples above show how drastically certain things can change in a short amount of time, especially regarding technology’s role within the estate planning process. This can add even more complexities into many individual situations, and it makes the support and assistance from an experienced lawyer that much more critical.


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