March 25, 2020 - Canada's response to Covid-19 has caused the Ontario and Quebec governments to shut down non-essential businesses, with other provinces reportedly likely to follow suit in the coming days. The pandemic has also caused a Canada-wide surge in clients asking to have their Wills drafted.
Practicing social distancing while meeting the needs of your clients is particularly difficult when it comes to collecting information during the initial meeting and physically witnessing document execution. Here are a few tips and free tools that will help you serve your clients while remaining safe and healthy:
- Emergent's Legal Intake for Wills™: this client-facing wills questionnaire is a perfect way for your client to provide you the information you need when drafting, and to do so at a distance. Clients simply create a profile in the cloud, and answer standard intake questions at their leisure. When finished, you simply download their answers into Emergent's Estate Planning & Vault Manager software for use to automatically generate mirror Wills, POA's, RA's, PD's, EPA's and any other estate planning document you need. Together, the Legal Intake for Wills™ and Estate Planning & Vault Manager allows draft client-specific mirror wills in less than 5 minutes.For the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, all Annual Subscription customers will receive the Legal Intake for Wills™ at no additional cost.
- Video Conferencing: products like Zoom, Join.Me, Skype and a host of others, are great tools for seeing your client from a distance. These tools offer "free" versions (some limitations may apply) which are simple to use by law firms and clients alike, allowing for easy discussions, obtaining instructions, enhancing relationships and verifying identification.
- Emergent's Virtual Vault: this client-facing website is a module within Emergent's Legal Kiosk™ portal suite where law firm can share documents with clients across any area of law. Firms simply upload the document(s) they wish to share with their client, grant permission and your client is able to securely view their Will and POA's. Once signed, your client and their Executor/Trustee are able to view the Will whenever its needed, or quickly engage your firm for any modifications.
By Labour Day 2020, each module within Emergent's Legal Kiosk, including the Virtual Vault, will include DocuSign at no additional cost beyond Emergent's disbursable per file fees. You will not need a DocuSign account in order to send documents for electronic signature, and your clients will not need a DocuSign account in order to sign.
- Virtual Witnessing of Wills: it's critically important that legislation be updated to allow for the virtual witnessing of Wills in Canada, especially during the Covid -19 pandemic. Each jurisdiction has its own legislation. One of Emergent's partners, NoticeConnect, has started to petition the Ontario Government to update legislation to allow for the virtual witnessing of Wills in Ontario. Join the movement and sign the petition by clicking here.
Collectively, between Emergent's Legal Intake for Wills™, Estate Planning & Vault Manager and either of the video conferencing tools above, you have the tools to connect with and draft an executable Will (POA's, RA's, EPA's ,etc.), efficiently and without physically meeting your client. As Emergent's Virtual Vault provides instant and ongoing access to signed documents safely and securely, the only piece missing in this era is the change in legislation to allow virtual witnessing. We hope you will join us in pushing for legislative changes that remain current with technology and these difficult times.
Please stay healthy and safe. If you have any questions or if Emergent can assist in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.