With over a million people worldwide contracting COVID-19 and the number of deaths continue to rise it is understandable why so many people are starting to worry about their Estate Planning. This is one of the many reasons the Government of Ontario has listed law firms as essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The law firm of H. Girvin Devitt want to provide comfort for those looking to update or create their Will and Powers of Attorney. We are still providing legal services and have developed creative and innovative ways to adapt our legal practice to keep everyone safe and healthy. It is important to note that the Succession Law Reform Act does not allow a Court to validate a Will that has not been duly executed. This means a Will must be signed in the physical presence of two witnesses and those witnesses are subject to certain requirements. It is of the upmost importance that your wishes are being communicated properly and that the proper steps have been taken to ensure that it is a valid Will.
At this time we are:
Taking instructions in regards to a Will and Powers of Attorney via online meetings using platforms such as Face Time and Zoom;
Following an online video checklist to ensure that Estate Planning meetings are being held in confidence and to reduce the risk of undue influence;
Obliged to meet in our office so that you can sign your Will in the presence of the Lawyer and one clerk, while complying with social distancing requirements.
When coming into the office we have taken the following extra precautions to ensure your safety:
All surfaces are sanitized immediately before the prearranged meeting (including chairs, desk tops, door handles, etc.);
Masks and gloves are available for your use;
Client, Lawyer and staff member will keep a 2 metre distance at all times;
You will be the only client in the office;
The Will and Powers of Attorney will be preset-up on a desk for you to sign and only after you have signed all documents will the Lawyer and clerk sign after you have signed and stepped away from the desk.
The Ministry of Attorney General has been asked to approve remote signing of Wills. We hope that this will be approved shortly. We will provide updates as they become available.