Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act (SLRA) is a respected piece of legislation that was first enacted in 1977. As a result of COVID-19, the SLRA made a large number of important changes in the law of succession that were long overdue.
We can see how long it has been when compared to other succession statutes in other provinces as some have updated statutes in full and/or made significant changes to them.
How has COVID-19 Impacted the SLRA?
COVID-19 has placed significant constraints on people, in terms of gathering physically, which has led to the identification of serious defects in the SLRA.
Because lawyers were (and are) required to maintain a physical distance from their clients, it has presented challenges for attending to the execution of wills and other estate planning documents.
This challenge was further increased by the fact that Ontario declined to allow the courts to grant the probate of wills if not all the regulations were followed.
Ontario has worked to address these challenges by passing emergency orders such as the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and introducing bill 245 in the legislature: Accelerating Access to Justice Act, 2021 (AAJA).
How This Affects The Signing of Wills & Estates
The basics of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act is to allow the execution of estate documents through the use of online assisted programs (i.e. Zoom, Google Meet etc.)
Prior to this, executing will and estate documentation had to be done in person, as opposed to on the phone or online.
Since this Act has been enacted, the signing and subscribing of wills and testaments online via video chat is permitted in order to follow stay-at-home orders.
Example Legal Scenario
A couple is looking to update their will as there has been a recent death in the family.
Because of COVID-19 they are unable to meet with their lawyer in person and are worried they will not be able to make the amendment.
Because of the update to the SLRA, the couple was able to book a meeting with their lawyer via Zoom and make and notarize the changes right away.
Because the pandemic has posed a challenge for meeting in person with those from outside of your household, and as such, the SLRA has been amended to ensure that the execution of wills and estates can still be accomplished.
With the addition of allowing these documents to be signed virtually by lawyers and their clients via Google Meet, Zoom or other virtual conferencing software, COVID-19 protocols are being met while all parties remain safe.
This blog is made available by the law firm publisher, Epstein & Associates, for educational purposes. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law but does not provide specific legal advice. Any specific questions about your legal concerns please contact us now and speak to an expert now that can assist with wills and estate planning services.