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British Columbia amends wills legislation to permit electronic wills

March 18, 2022

BC is the first province to specifically provide for electronic wills

On December 1, 2021, amendments to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act of British Columbia came into effect, making the province the first in Canada to provide for electronic wills. The law now specifically defines “electronic wills”, which are valid if they recorded or stored electronically, can be read by a person and are capable of being reproduced in visible form. The requirements of signatures of the testator the witnesses are satisfied by electronic signatures, the definition of which is taken from electronic commerce legislation: “‘electronic signature’ means 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.” It is notable that secure electronic signatures are not required.

The amendments also provide for specific rules for the revocation of an electronic will (s. 55.1) and further provide that an electronic will cannot be amended or altered once made (s. 54.1), but needs to be revoked and replaced.

While the amendments to provide certainty about the facial validity of electronic wills, it will be interesting to see how popular they become.

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