Since the onset of the coronavirus demand for wills, powers of attorney and representation agreements has increased. Clients are concerned about their health and the estate plan they created before the pandemic because their financial situation may have changed.
In order to ensure that clients are safe, I am taking instructions either over the phone or by video conference and clients are receiving their documents by email. The new will needs to be witnessed by two people who are not mentioned in the will and this can be challenging especially if clients are in a care home or they are in the hospital where visitors are not permitted. Ideally clients can come to my office and I and my assistant will meet them outside my office on Humboldt Street to witness their documents. There are however now new amendments to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act that allow witnesses to be “electronically present” meaning “circumstances in which 2 or more persons in difference locations communicate simultaneously to an extent that is similar to communication that would occur if all the persons were physically present in the same location.” With this new legislation, a will-maker and his or her witnesses may sign identical copies of the will in counterpart as long as they are all electronically present at the same time.
Deborah A. Todd