Due to COVID-19, the Wills, Estates, Succession Act of BC (WESA) was amended in August 2020 to permit a Will-maker to sign a Will in the electronic presence of witnesses and the Will-maker and witnesses to sign by electronic signature.
Section 35.1 of WESA defines “electronic presence” or “electronically present” to mean the circumstances in which two or more persons in different 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. We believe this means that the Will-maker and the witnesses may sign by way of videoconference.
When witnessing a Will by videoconference, each of the Will-maker and the two witnesses must sign an identical Will, and those two (or three, if none of them are in the same place) documents compiled together form the Will. As a result, the Will could be two or three times as long because slipping in signature pages is not permitted. A copy of a Will is considered identical even if there are minor, non-material differences in the format between the copies.
We recommend that a Will signed electronically include a statement that the Will was signed in counterpart in the electronic presence of two witnesses while connected by Audio and Video Conference.