On June 18, 2020, the Government of Alberta introduced Bill 24, the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 (“Bill 24”). In our news release of May 27, 2020 , we highlighted a concern that had arisen in the provisions of Ministerial Order 39/2020 (“M.O.”). The M.O. authorized the remote witnessing of Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney, and Personal Directives in light of the COVID-19 pandemic where public health recommendations for social distancing placed significant restrictions of the ability of lawyers to meet with their clients to execute their estate planning documents in person. Once put into practice, it came to light that the M.O. would not authorize the execution of Wills in counterpart.

This issue has been addressed by the introduction of Bill 24, which amends several pieces of provincial legislation, chief among them the Personal Directives Act RSA 2000 cP-6, the Powers of Attorney Act RSA 2000 cP-20, and the Wills and Succession Act, SA 2010 cW-12.2. These amendments define “deemed presence”, stating that persons are deemed to be in each other's presence while connected by an electronic method of communication in which they are able to see, hear and communicate with each other in real time. Once Bill 24 is passed, it will be possible to execute estate planning documents remotely in Alberta utilizing video conferencing.

Originally published 24 June, 2020

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