The Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak has significantly affected the world in unprecedented ways. Almost every aspect of our daily routines have changed. Many of us are practicing social distancing in addition to self-isolation or self-quarantining at home in hopes of flattening the curve of this pandemic. However, a problem that many Canadians may not be ready to face are the implications of not having a will or powers of attorneys in place. This is especially true and critical in times of a global pandemic. 

Although difficult to think about, Canadians must be prepared for worst-case scenarios as COVID-19 continues to escalate quickly. In the event that you pass away, you would need your assets protected and distributed to those you care about. Therefore, if you have a bit of extra time on your hands, consider reviewing your estate plans!

Read this post for more information regarding considerations when making a will.

Read more to understand the various impacts that COVID-19 may have on estate planning and execution.

Court Availability

Given the need to limit infection and practice social distancing, many businesses have closed or reduced their operation. As a result, courts may limit its hearings to only urgent and time-sensitive motions.

Have you Updated your Will?

Having a will is one thing, but ensuring that your estate planning documents are up-to-date is another thing. Perhaps you made your will years ago and your chosen executors or powers of attorney are no longer appropriate. 

Now more than ever, your powers of attorney for property and personal care must be updated. This is especially true if you are part of the demographic more vulnerable to being infected with COVID-19. For example, the elderly, immunocompromised, or having pre-existing conditions. It may be worth considering appointing someone who is not in this high risk group as your attorney for property. 

Power of Attorney for Property

The appointed individual is responsible for managing and making decisions about your property and financial affairs in the event that you are incapable of doing so yourself.

Power of Attorney for Personal Care

The appointed individual is responsible for making decisions about your healthcare, housing, nutrition, and other aspects of your personal life in the event that you are incapable of doing so yourself.

In addition, be sure to update your will if you have gotten married, separated, or have had children. Otherwise, some decisions may be nullified or sections may be missing entirely. This may include guardian appointment or provisions for trusts and inheritance. 

Remote Execution and Validation

There are strict requirements pertaining to the execution of original estate planning documents. For instance, wills and powers of attorney must be signed in the physical presence of witnesses. However, because in-person meetings to execute wills, powers of attorney, and affidavits of execution during the COVID-19 pandemic may not be possible, accommodations have been made. Until further notice, video technology can be used given that specific requirements are met. For example, changes are made to the affidavit’s contents in addition to the deponent and commissioner taking a series of particular steps. 

To ensure that your documents are indeed valid and ready for immediate use, consider seeking help from a lawyer. They thoroughly understand these changes and the appropriate steps and details that need to be accounted for. COVID-19 has left Canadians feeling uncertain about many things, but you can control whether your estate plan is one of them. These are very challenging times, but we at Sodagar & Co. are ready to assist you albeit, remotely.

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