BC becomes the first province in Canada to allow for the electronic signing, virtual witnessing, and online storage of wills
The pandemic spurred massive changes across industries, behaviours and processes, and the legal industry was no exception. Legal professionals have traditionally relied on in-person exchanges and paper but they had to quickly integrate and adapt to ensure there was continuity of work.
As of today, December 1, British Columbia is revolutionizing their legal processes and launching Bill 21: The Wills, Estates and Succession Amendment Act. This marks the first time that electronic wills and the use of remote signatures become available in British Columbia marking a significant shift in end-of-life planning. The changes will give electronic Wills the same recognition as physical Wills, and make it available for Wills to be signed and stored electronically.
John Mayr, Executive Director of the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia stated, “The proposed changes to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act to provide for Wills to be made, signed, and stored electronically is an opportunity for more people to engage in Estate planning and to ensure their final wishes are known and carried out. Having an accessible, secure, online platform that provides easy access for clients and their trusted partners will be a real benefit. As the regulatory body for notaries public, the development of standards of practice for the creation, witnessing, and safe secure storage of important documents will be considered.“
It’s estimated that only about 44%of British Columbians have a valid, legally signed and up-to-date Will according to BC Notaries. If a person passes away without a Will, their estate may not be distributed in the way they would have wished and on average, it can take two to three years to settle an Estate. That means paying for professional assistance and spending an enormous amount of time playing document detective as you try to navigate the confusing world of Estate settlement and management. The right planning now means less stress for your family later.
We built ReadyWhen so that every Canadian has the ability to proactively create, manage, and share their life plan in a safe and secure manner. It allows you to enter and own your personal information and documents in perpetuity and makes planning your future easy and fast. This includes securely and easily storing your and your partner/spouses’ Wills and other legal documents.
“Our industry has moved slowly when it came to digital adoption but COVID forced us to rethink the way we operate,” said Scott Simpson of Simpson Notaries. “With Bill 21, the industry is taking a huge step into the digital world but more importantly, it’s going to make things faster, easier, and accessible. So many of our clients don’t think about planning their estate until it’s too late. This new legislation can help change behaviours so that more families are protected when someone they love passes. We have implemented ReadyWhen at every step of our process because of their end-to-end encrypted platform that makes storing and sharing a Will easy and secure.