On August 14, 2020, Bill 21: Wills, Estates and Succession Amendment Act, 2020 (“Bill 21”) received Royal Assent in British Columbia. The bill amended the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, SBC 2009, c 13 (“WESA”) to allow for the remote witnessing of Wills, for the creation of electronic Wills, and for the digital signing of Wills. Our blog post outlining Bill 21 can be found here.
As of today, the provisions of Bill 21 allowing for Wills in electronic form signed by electronic signature under WESA are in effect.
“Electronic form” is defined as a form that:
(a) is recorded or stored electronically;
(b) can be read by a person; and
(c) is capable of being reproduced in a visible form.
“Electronic signature” is defined as “information in electronic form that a person has created or adopted in order to sign a record and that is in, attached to or associated with the record.”
Based on these provisions, it appears that a person may now draft and digitally sign a Will (e.g. via Docusign), such that one original paper version of the Will no longer necessarily exists.
To date, British Columbia is the only Canadian province to allow for a Will in electronic form signed by electronic signature.
If you have any questions about electronic Wills, or the benefits and risks associated with electronic Wills in particular, a member of our Wills + Estates team would be happy to assist you.