April 20, 2020

Regulations Passed to Allow Remote Witnessing of Wills

In light of the COVID-19 emergency and physical distancing requirements, government has enacted Regulations allowing the remote witnessing of wills.

The Wills (Public Emergencies) Regulations, which came into force on April 16, permit the signing of a will to be witnessed remotely as long as one of two witnesses is a lawyer.

“With the current public health emergency, it is impractical and potentially risky for the required people to be in the same room during the signing of a will, particularly for those who may be more vulnerable to the virus,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said.  “These Regulations will ensure that wills can be signed remotely, reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

Under normal circumstances, a will must be in writing and signed by the person making the will or by someone acting on their behalf.  The signing of the will must also be witnessed by two people (one of whom is usually the person’s lawyer), who also sign the will.

These regulations allow an individual to sign their will, send the signed copy back to their lawyer, and acknowledge their signature remotely via video before their lawyer and a second witness.  The Regulations do not allow for the creation of an electronic will or the use of electronic signatures.  Wills must be in writing and signed by the person making the will and both witnesses in ink.

These changes follow other recently implemented emergency regulations that permit the remote witnessing and commissioning by lawyers of other legal documents, such as powers of attorney and land titles documents.

More information on wills and estates can be found at www.saskatchewan.ca/wills-and-estates.