The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
Certified correct as passed Third Reading on the 15th day of July, 2020
Kate Ryan-Lloyd, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly
HONOURABLE DAVID R. P. EBY
HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:
1 The Wills, Estates and Succession Act, S.B.C. 2009, c. 13, is amended by adding the following section to Division 1 of Part 4:
35.1 In this Part:
"communicate" means communicate using audiovisual communication technology, including assistive technology for persons who are hearing impaired or visually impaired, that enables persons to communicate with each other by hearing and seeing each other;
"electronic" means created, recorded, transmitted or stored in digital or other intangible form by electronic, magnetic or optical means or by any other similar means;
"electronic presence" or "electronically present" means the circumstances in which 2 or more persons in different locations communicate simultaneously to an extent that is similar to communication that would occur if all the persons were physically present in the same location.
2 Section 35.1 is amended
(a) by renumbering the section as section 35.1 (1),
(b) in subsection (1) by adding the following definitions:
"electronic form", in relation to an electronic will, means a form that
(a) is recorded or stored electronically,
(b) can be read by a person, and
(c) is capable of being reproduced in a visible form;
"electronic signature" means information in electronic form that a person has created or adopted in order to sign a record and that is in, attached to or associated with the record;
"electronic will" means a will that is in electronic form. , and
(c) by adding the following subsection:
(2) A record in electronic form is deemed not to be capable of being recorded, stored or reproduced if the person providing the record inhibits the recording, storage or reproduction of the record by the recipient.
3 The following section is added:
35.2 (1) In this Part, except in section 38, a requirement that a person take an action in the presence of another person, or while other persons are present at the same time, is satisfied while the persons are in each other's electronic presence.
(2) For certainty, nothing in this section prevents some of the persons described in subsection (1) from being physically present and others from being electronically present when the action is taken.
(3) If a will-maker and witnesses are in each other's electronic presence when the will-maker makes a will, the will may be made by signing complete and identical copies of the will in counterpart.
(4) Copies of a will in counterpart are deemed to be identical even if there are non-substantive differences in the format of the copies.
4 The following section is added:
35.3 (1) For the purposes of sections 37, 40, 43, 62 and 77,
(a) a reference to a signature includes an electronic signature and a reference to a statement being signed includes the statement being signed electronically, and
(b) a requirement for the signature of a person is satisfied by an electronic signature.
(2) Section 39 (1) [clarification of doubt about signature placement] does not apply to an electronic will.
(3) An electronic will is conclusively deemed to be signed if the electronic signature is in, attached to or associated with the will so that it is apparent the will-maker intended to give effect to the entire will.
5 Section 37 is amended
(a) in subsection (1) (b) by striking out "acknowledged by the will-maker as his or hers" and substituting "acknowledged by the will-maker as the will-maker's signature", and
(b) by adding the following subsections:
(3) The requirement under subsection (1) (a) that a will be in writing is satisfied if the will is in electronic form.
(4) An electronic will is a will for all purposes of this Act and any other enactment.
6 Section 54 (1) is amended by striking out "to a will" and substituting "to a will other than an electronic will,".
7 The following section is added:
54.1 (1) A will-maker seeking to make an alteration to an electronic will must make a new will in accordance with section 37 [how to make a valid will].
(2) For certainty, section 54 does not apply to an electronic will.
8 Section 55 (1) is amended by striking out "A will or part of a will" and substituting "A will other than an electronic will or a part of a will other than an electronic will".
9 The following section is added:
55.1 (1) An electronic will or part of an electronic will is revoked only in one or more of the following circumstances:
(a) by the will-maker, or a person in the presence of the will-maker and by the will-maker's direction, deleting one or more electronic versions of the will or of part of the will with the intention of revoking it;
(b) by the will-maker, or a person in the presence of the will-maker and by the will-maker's direction, burning, tearing or destroying all or part of a paper copy of the will in some manner, in the presence of a witness, with the intention of revoking all or part of the will;
(c) the circumstances described in section 55 (1) (a) and (b) [how to revoke will];
(d) by any other act of the will-maker, or another person in the presence of the will-maker and by the will-maker's direction, if the court determines under section 58 [court order curing deficiencies] that
(i) the consequence of the act of the will-maker or the other person is apparent, and
(ii) the act was done with the intent of the will-maker to revoke the will in whole or in part.
(2) A written declaration made in accordance with section 55 (1) (b) may be in electronic form and signed with an electronic signature.
(3) For certainty, an inadvertent deletion of one or more electronic versions of a will or part of a will is not evidence of an intention to revoke the will.
10 Section 57 (1) is amended by striking out "A will or part of a will" and substituting "A will other than an electronic will or a part of a will other than an electronic will".
11 (1) In this section, "specified period" means the period that starts on March 18, 2020 and ends on the date this Act receives Royal Assent.
(2) A requirement in Part 4 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act that a person take an action in the presence of another person is satisfied in relation to a will made in the specified period if the will was made in accordance with section 35.2 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, as added by section 3 of this Act, whether or not it purports to have been made under the Electronic Witnessing of Wills (COVID-19) Order, Ministerial Order 161/2020.
(3) A will made in the specified period that complies with section 35.2 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, as added by section 3 of this Act, whether or not it purports to have been made under the Electronic Witnessing of Wills (COVID-19) Order, Ministerial Order 161/2020, is not invalid solely because the will-maker and the witnesses were in each other's electronic presence.
12 The Electronic Witnessing of Wills (COVID-19) Order, Ministerial Order 161/2020, is repealed.
13 The provisions of this Act referred to in column 1 of the following table come into force as set out in column 2 of the table:
|Item||Column 1 |
Provisions of Act
|1||Anything not elsewhere covered by this table||March 18, 2020|
|2||Section 2||By regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council|
|3||Sections 4 to 10||By regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council|
|4||Section 12||By regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council|