Given the COVID-19 Pandemic you may be considering estate planning. A will is a legal document giving a person control over what will happen to the things you own after you die. This includes giving specific gifts under your will, but also includes managing finances (such as taxes, and pension plans), and other matters.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Wills Act sets out requirements for creating a legally valid will. Other requirements have been developed through cases involving wills decided through the court system. For example, the person making a will must be at least 17 years of age and have legal capacity. For further information of wills and estates, please visit our Wills and Estates Page.
If you make a “holographic will”, that is a will that is only in your hand writing, then you do not need to have any witnesses to your signature to create a legal will.
If you have someone else write your will, or use a printer to print out your will, you need two witnesses who must be present when you sign the document to create a legal will.
On May 6th, 2020, the Temporary Alternate Witnessing of Documents Act received royal assent and became law. This act temporarily allows lawyers in good standing with the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador to witness documents identified in the Wills Act, Notaries Public Act, Commissioners for Oaths Act and Registration of Deeds Act, 2009 using audio-visual technology. This includes the use of smartphones, tablet devices, computers, and other audio-visual technology to witness document signings.
This act does not allow non-lawyers to witness wills or to commission oaths on documents through audio-visual technology.
To make a legally valid will in Newfoundland and Labrador during COVID-19 you must still meet the requirements of the Wills Act . This means that you can either make a “holographic will”, or a “non-holographic will” and have two witnesses present for your signing. You may also consider using a lawyer through in person or audio-visual technology to help sign your will.
Contact the Public Legal Information Association (PLIAN) for help finding a lawyer or to obtain legal information about wills and estates. PLIAN’s Legal Information Line and Lawyer Referral Service remain operational. Anyone with questions about wills and estates or any other legal matter can contact us for more information at 1-888-660-7788 or firstname.lastname@example.org.