Remote signing and witnessing of wills to be allowed by Alberta until 2022

Alberta’s justice minister Doug Schweitzer issued the order making this change

Remote signing and witnessing of wills to be allowed by Alberta until 2022
Doug Schweitzer is Alberta’s justice minister and solicitor general.

The temporary accommodation period for the remote signing and witnessing of wills in Alberta, introduced in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been extended and is set to end on Aug. 15, 2022.

Alberta’s Bill 24, called the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Statutes Amendment Act, 2020, received royal assent on June 26, amending the Wills and Succession Act, among other laws. The amendment affected s. 15 of the Wills and Succession Act, which requires two witnesses to be present at the same time while the testator makes or acknowledges their signature in the formal will and requires the testator’s presence when the two witnesses sign the formal will. It also affected s. 19(1), which allows the testator to sign a will by directing another person to sign on the testator’s behalf and in the testator’s presence.

Under Bill 24, the requirement of presence under ss. 15 and 19(1) will be fulfilled if the individuals involved are connected via an electronic mode of communication that enables them to see, hear and communicate with each other in real time. This change is only temporarily effective and will last for a period prescribed by regulations.

Doug Schweitzer, Alberta’s justice minister and solicitor general, has now issued Ministerial Order 47/2020, called the Remote Signing and Witnessing (Effective Period) Regulation, dated July 15. The regulation sets the duration for the effectivity of the temporary accommodation at two years, or more specifically, for the period from Aug. 15, 2020 to Aug. 15, 2022.

A prior Ministerial Order had set the period for the temporary allowing of remote signing and witnessing of estate planning documents to end at Aug. 14.

“Given that the personal health risks of in-person meetings will not subside any time soon, these Ministerial Regulations will ensure that Albertans have access to estate and care planning until it is safe to meet face-to-face,” wrote MLT Aikins LLP in a blog post.

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