Garton & Harris

Wills still need to be hand signed in British Columbia

The 21st century is no doubt the technological age. Many legal documents are actually executed online using an electronic signature. But when it comes to wills, it's not that easy for British Columbia residents. Actually, all Canadians can electronically sign invoices, quotes, proposals, contracts and many other kinds of documents. Wills, however, are another story. 

E-signatures are governed by both federal and provincial laws. All provinces and territories, along with the federal government say wills, along with some other documents like those pertaining to family law, must be in hard copy form and signed by hand. Only when they are signed as such do the courts consider them to be legal.

Documents that need to be hand signed are referred to as wet documents. In addition to wills, they include any official documents from a court, codicils, promissory notes and some trust documents. Also, there is a government enactment for certain documents which authorizes or disallows e-signatures. A promissory note, for example, comes under federal jurisdiction through the Bills of Exchange Act. 

The courts need to see hard copies of some documents signed the old-fashioned way. There are many legalities associated with various legal documents such as wills. Obtaining legal counsel to avoid making a serious error on some of these documents -- like signing certain ones with an e-signature, which would not hold up legally -- might be a wise move.  A British Columbia lawyer is in a position to help his or her clients make sure estate planning documents are signed properly according to the letter of the law. 

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