Estate Planning in the Time of COVID-19

Shutterstock 1625951248 copy 3d2b0b27

As time passes and we begin to settle into the routine of self-isolation, many people are finding themselves with a bit more time on our hands. For those looking to fill that in a productive way, the current situation presents an excellent opportunity to address one area of your financial life that remains woefully neglected by many.

I am of course referring to your estate. Many people often cite the fact that they are too busy as a reason for that work remaining incomplete. If you have been delaying working on your estate and would like to take this time to get that extra weight off of your shoulders, then here are some things going forwards to consider.

The three most important documents to have in place when it comes to estate work are

  • Your will
  • A continuing power of attorney for property document
  • A power of attorney for personal care document

A staggering 62% of Canadians do not have these documents in place and another 10% have documents that are not current or need to be revised.

You may be wondering why you need these documents anyways?

1. If you do not have a will in place, there will be no individual appointed to look after your assets and deal with the banks and investment companies on your behalf. Someone will need to hire a lawyer and apply to the courts to look after your estate, ensuing unnecessary costs and delays. This can create legal and logistical hurdles for your loved ones which can often times be time consuming and expensive.

2. If you do not have a will in place then the government decides how your estate will be distributed based on a pre-set formula. This means the people you hoped would be beneficiaries may not actually be looked after, such a common law spouse.


As we are all in self isolation and practicing social distancing, many people may be wondering how you can act on these items. With the advent of COVID-19, some important changes have taken place relating to estates.

The legal system is quite rigid when it comes to the rules regarding how to make sure the wills and POA are valid and properly constituted. For example, in order to be valid, the will must be properly witnessed and affidavits have to be done. Most of these documents also traditionally had to be done in person.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Ontario has recently implemented a temporary change allowing for more modern technologies to be used in lieu of in person meetings, permitting virtual witnessing for wills and powers of attorney provided that at least one person who is providing the service as a witness is a licensee (i.e. a lawyer or a paralegal) pursuant to the Law Society Act.. This allows for lawyers to work with clients over video conferencing. so that people in isolation, now in the senior residences or otherwise, can get those documents done remotely.

If you have questions about your estate, or the steps that you can take now to get started, please do not hesitate to get in touch. There are ways to ensure that you and your family are protected even during this period of social distancing. We are here to help you!

To keep up to date with changes to the regulations regarding COVID-19 and estates, please click here. We are monitoring the situation and will be communicating updates as needed.

The post Estate Planning in the Time of COVID-19 appeared first on Estate Stewards.