Ontario allows notaries to witness Wills remotely via online video
8 April 2020
Notary Pro offers Canada’s first online Will notarization service
As of April 2020, the Ontario government now legally allows legal professionals (such as notary publics) to virtually witness the signing of Last Will and Testaments and Powers of Attorney through online video platforms.
What is virtual witnessing?
In the simplest terms, you can meet with a notary public via online video. The notary will virtually witness you physically sign a paper copy of your Will or Power of Attorney, and then the notary will physically sign an identical ‘counterpart’ copy of your document and mail it back to you.
In response to the COVID pandemic, the Ontario government now permits lawyers (and notaries) to virtually witness clients physically sign critical estate planning documents, including Last Wills and Testaments and Powers of Attorney, via online video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Google Meets.
In normal circumstances, two witnesses are required to be physically present with the person who is signing (executing) their Power of Attorney or Last Will and Testament.
Now via online video call, a notary public can virtually meet the client along with the witnesses. When a Last Will and Testament or a Power of Attorney needs to be signed, everyone can join the same online video call from the safety and comfort of home.
Why choose Notary Pro to virtually witness your documents?
The Ontario Government’s emergency order requires that one of the two witnesses to be licensed by the Law Society of Ontario as either a lawyer or paralegal. Notary Pro can provide both witnesses through our virtual witnessing service. All of our notaries are licensed lawyers and paralegals.
The Ministry of the Attorney General passed this emergency order allowing virtual witnessing. This order will be in effect for the duration of the state of emergency declared by the province on March 17. Most legal experts expect the government to make virtual witnessing a permanent service in the near future.
Note that physical ‘wet’ ink signatures are still required on any Last Will and Testament or Power of Attorney, even when signing via online video. The notary public will be the virtual witness, and then physically sign a printed ‘counterpart’ copy of the documents provided by the client.
Notary Pro is proud to offer Canada’s first remote online notarization and virtual witnessing services.
Emergency Order in Council – Full Text
SIGNATURES IN WILLS AND POWERS OF ATTORNEY
1. For the duration of the emergency, a requirement under the Succession Law Reform Act that a testator or witnesses be present or in each other’s presence for the making or acknowledgment of a signature on a will or for the subscribing of a will may be satisfied by means of audio-visual communication technology provided that at least one person who is providing services as a witness is a licensee within the meaning of the Law Society Act at the time of the making, acknowledgment or subscribing.
Powers of attorney
2. For the duration of the emergency, a requirement under the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 that witnesses be present for the execution of a power of attorney may be satisfied by means of audio-visual communication technology provided that at least one person who is providing services as a witness is a licensee within the meaning of the Law Society Act at the time of the execution.
3. In this Order, “audio-visual communication technology” means any electronic method of communication in which participants are able to see, hear and communicate with each other in real time.