In today’s rapidly evolving digital world, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes in conducting legal business. To adapt to the new normal, various legislations have been enacted to facilitate virtual signings, witnessing, and electronic signatures.  Alberta’s Initial Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, in May 2020, Alberta introduced temporary legislation allowing for the virtual signing and witnessing of wills, enduring powers of attorney, and personal directives.

However, at that time, wills signed in counterparts were not accepted by the Queen’s Bench, making the virtual execution of estate planning documents challenging. This required lawyers to physically send the same document to each party for signature and virtual witnessing. This blog post will provide an overview of the current regulations surrounding virtual real estate signings in Alberta.

The Alberta Government’s Approval of Video Conferencing and Recent Legislative Changes

On February 24, 2021, the Alberta Government extended the allowance for the use of video conferencing, providing a more permanent signing option that is particularly helpful for out-of-province buyers and sellers.  The Law Society of Alberta has established strict rules for remote signing, including client identification, verification, and oversight. Before initiating a Zoom meeting, your written consent will be obtained. Here are some key points to remember:

  1. Lawyer Qualifications: Only active members of the Law Society of Alberta, who hold current valid insurance with the Alberta Lawyers Indemnity Association (ALIA), can witness, notarize, or commission documents. This ensures the qualifications and integrity of the legal professionals involved.
  2. Document Verification: Both you and your lawyer must have the same document in front of you during the Zoom meeting. It is essential to cross-check and confirm that the document matches. Additionally, Land Titles require original “wet” signatures, meaning they will reject copies of signatures.
  3. Precautions and Security: Lawyers must take precautions to prevent fraud, lack of capacity, duress, theft, or other risks. Specific notes or amended jurats regarding video conferencing are required in the documents to address the virtual signing process.

Recognizing the ongoing need for virtual solutions, the Alberta government has introduced updated legislation that now allows for signing estate planning documents in counterpart, even during virtual executions. These changes are retroactive to May 15, 2020, and extend the period of virtual signing and witnessing until August 15, 2022. The government also has the flexibility to introduce additional periods where virtual execution rules will apply.

Requirements for Virtual Execution of Estate Planning Documents

The requirements for virtual execution remain unchanged since the temporary legislation. The involved parties must be connected through an electronic method of communication that enables real-time visual, auditory, and interactive capabilities. Additionally, legal advice from a lawyer is essential to ensure compliance with the rules governing estate planning documentation. Passgo’s expert lawyers are experienced in estate planning and can provide the necessary guidance and services.


Virtual Commissioning and Notarizing by Lawyers

To address safety concerns during the pandemic, the Alberta Court of the Queen’s Bench released guidelines for virtual commissioning of affidavits. This process, although more time-consuming, includes verifying the affiant’s identity, maintaining individual copies of the entire affidavit, administering the oath or affirmation, and submitting the signed affidavit electronically. These measures aim to alleviate potential spread while ensuring the integrity of the process.


Legality and Enforceability of Electronic Signatures

Under the Electronic Transaction Act (ETA), electronic signatures are considered legal and enforceable in Alberta. This means that electronic agreements, including real estate purchases, mortgage representations, and employment contracts, are legally binding. However, certain documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, personal directives, and land transfers still require traditional signatures to be legally binding.

The Importance of Diligence and Expertise

While virtual real estate signings and electronic signatures offer convenience, it is crucial to exercise due diligence and seek expert advice. Engaging with knowledgeable lawyers ensures compliance with legal requirements and proper execution of virtual transactions. Additionally, obtaining explicit or implicit consent from signing parties helps demonstrate their intentions and safeguards against potential fraud.



The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant changes in the legal landscape, allowing for virtual signings, witnessing, and electronic signatures in Alberta. While many legal proceedings can be accomplished virtually, it is important to consider the potential risks associated with video conferencing and e-signatures. Zoom real estate signings offer a convenient and efficient alternative to traditional in-person transactions. With the approval of video conferencing by the Alberta Government and adherence to strict rules and procedures, you can complete your real estate closing remotely. By following the necessary preparations and complying with the requirements, you can ensure a smooth and secure Zoom signing experience.

Seeking guidance from lawyers and having agreements reviewed can help ensure fairness, validity, and legal binding of virtual transactions. As we navigate through these challenging times, virtual solutions continue to play a crucial role in conducting legal business while prioritizing safety and adhering to regulations.