Tuesday, April 7, 2020
I don't know if it's a Facebook matrix but my feed seems to be full of DIY Will kit advertising. Please, please, please beware. A DIY kit will result in a printed Will. In Canada such a will is only valid if the signing is witnessed by two people who see the signing at the same time.
Because of the state imposed Covid-19 isolation mandate, getting together to sign a Will would be inconsistent with advice provided by Health Canada. So unless you have two adults in your isolation circle, you will have trouble getting the DIY Will validly executed (ie. properly signed and witnessed). Bear in mind that those two adults can not be your spouse, nor anyone named in your Will or their spouse, nor your children.
Lawyers are considered essential services in Ontario so we are expected to continue to provide client services. However we are also expected to physically isolate and work from home as much as possible. So, I am not receiving clients in my office nor am I willing to go to their homes (which is part of my usual practice). I am physically isolating as we all should be and I am encouraging my clients to do so as well. While I am aware that lawyers continue to physically visit with clients, I believe this behavior is irresponsible no matter how careful they think they are being. For the foreseeable future, I will only assist clients by telephone and video conferencing (Zoom, Skype, MSTeams, FaceTime, Google Duo, Messenger Video and the like).
Typically, a preliminary meeting where I get all the information I require will take about an hour and can be performed by video conference, ideally, or by telephone if necessary. Thereafter, I would prepare documents and email them for further discussion and eventual approval.
For clients who can arrange the necessary witnesses, I will provide detailed instructions as to the exact procedure to be followed to sign the documents. Although it is not necessary, I would be happy to oversee the signing by video conference. After the signing, I will ensure that one of the witnesses swears out the Affidavit of Service, which can be done by video conference and does not have to be done simultaneously with the signing.
Desperate Times call for Desperate Measures -- Holographic Wills
For clients who can not arrange the necessary witnesses, my advise is to make a holographic Will. This is not nearly as interesting as it sounds; it is NOT a video recording or the like. A holographic Will is a Will completely written by hand by you and signed by you. It does not need to be witnessed. You can use one of the DIY kits as a guide and write it out yourself or I can provide you with a bare bones Will to write out. When we are given the all clear to resume physical interaction, a formal Will could be produced, signed and witnessed to replace the holographic Will.
I hope you find this helpful.
If you would like to discuss any of this with me, please call me on 613 749-7698 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I charge $367.50 per Will.
Stay home and stay safe!