Signing Wills and Estate Planning Documents in Nova Scotia While Social Distancing

March 26, 2020

The lawyers and staff at Cox & Palmer in Halifax are ready to help you complete your wills and estate planning documents. If you need a Will, Power of Attorney or Personal Directive for medical care, our lawyers have several options to assist you in preparing and signing documents quickly and safely during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Step 1 – We will discuss your estate planning needs by phone or video conference.

Step 2 – Your lawyer will draft the estate documents and send them to you by email or courier for you to review.

Step 3 – Once your documents are prepared to your satisfaction, we have a number of options to assist you in signing the documents so they are valid, while respecting the importance of social distancing as a preventative measure.

Wills in Nova Scotia must be witnessed by two people, but the witnesses cannot be a spouse, beneficiary named in the will, or a spouse of a beneficiary named in a will. In order to comply with this, we offer options to assist clients in signing their wills and other estate documents:

  1. We will send the will and other estate planning documents to you at your house by courier with instructions on how to properly sign them in front of witnesses while maintaining safe social distancing.  For example, you can sign the documents while the witnesses ‘witness’ through a window or door outside your home. The signed documents can then be safely passed to the other party by being left outside the door for the witnesses to collect and sign the document outside your home from a safe distance. This approach allows you to have neighbours or friends act as witnesses.
  2. We have staff and lawyers ready to witness you signing the documents by video link on a mobile device (i.e. Skype, FaceTime). When the documents are returned to us they will then be signed by those who witnessed the signing by video. If you choose this option, we strongly recommend that the documents be re-signed at a later date when it is safe to do so in person again.

Contact our estate planning lawyers to make updates to, or prepare new, wills and other estate planning documents. We are happy to work with you to make sure your estate planning documents are up to date.

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Cox & Palmer publications are intended to provide information of a general nature only and not legal advice. The information presented is current to the date of publication and may be subject to change following the publication date.