The COVID-19 Related Measures Act (CRMA) came into force on July 10, 2020.
The CRMA enacts the Electronic Witnessing of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements (COVID-19) Order (M162) made May 19, 2020 and extends it 90 days after the end of the BC state of emergency which was initially declared by B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General on March 17, 2020 on the recommendation of public health officials and has been extended every two weeks since the start of the pandemic, most recently to January 19, 2021.
Electronic witnessing can be done via video conferencing. Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements that are witnessed electronically must include the following statement:
This Power of Attorney [or Representation Agreement] is signed and witnessed in accordance with the Electronic Witnessing of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements (COVID-19) Order as enacted by the COVID-19 Related Measures Act.
Under normal circumstances, Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements must be signed in the presence of two adult witnesses and only one witness is required if the witness is a B.C. lawyer or member of the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia. Any person named in a Power of Attorney as an attorney cannot act as a witness nor can a spouse, child or parent of a person named as an attorney. Under the Electronic Witnessing of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements (COVID-19) Order, if a Power of Attorney or Representation Agreement is witnessed electronically, the witness must be a B.C. lawyer or notary.
The person making the Power of Attorney or Representation Agreement and the witness will each sign identical documents in counterpart. According to Ministerial Order M162 “copies of an enduring power of attorney [or representation agreement] are identical even if there are nonsubstantive differences in the format between the copies.” Once everything is signed, there will be at least two originals, one signed by the person making the Power of Attorney or Representation Agreement and one signed by the witness. All originally signed versions should be kept together in a safe place.
Deborah A. Todd