Digital will signing and storage is now legal in British Columbia
Everything need to know about making a will now that Bill 21 has come into effect in BC.
British Columbia is the first Canadian province to pass legislation allowing for electronic signing, video witnessing, and digital storage of wills. The laws came into effect on December 1st, 2021, meaning you are now able to complete your will completely online. At Willful we’re helping break down what this means, how it changes the previous process, and how you can make your own digital will.
What is Bill 21?
Bill 21 is a piece of legislation that amends the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, which was passed in 2009 and governs how wills are made in BC. Bill 21 amends the current legislation to allow for:
Electronic signing of wills
Virtual witnessing - right now it’s possible to virtually witness a will over video, but it’s only part of the temporary COVID-19 measures - this makes it permanent
Digital storage of wills
Digital revocation of a will (how to update or revoke an existing will)
How is this different from creating a will before?
Before the new legislation, it was not legal to sign or store a will online anywhere in Canada. BC is the only province to now allow digital signing and storage. Here is the process for the rest of Canada:
Created by you in sound mind
Signed with wet ink on paper
Witnessed by two people who also sign with wet ink
If you’re doing virtual witnessing under the emergency orders, you still have to sign physical documents in counterpart (you sign one copy, your witnesses sign another copy)
How does Bill 21 help BC residents?
COVID-19 has showed how inaccessible and inefficient it is to complete documents in person and on paper. Bill 21 will help with:
Safety: Bill 21 removes the need to meet with someone in-person, which helps with COVID-19 safety guidelines
Accessibility: Whether you live in a rural community, you have a disability, or you can’t leave your home due to medical reasons, this makes it easy to complete your will from a computer or smartphone
Convenience: Complete your will from home without having to visit a lawyer’s office or meet with witnesses in person
Fraud reduction: Secure electronic processes will help to cut down on fraud
Document safety and access: Ensure your family can access a digital copy of your will when you pass away. Digital storage also ensures a physical document can’t be destroyed