In this project, BCLI has updated and re-issued its Guide on practices recommended for legal practitioners to follow in the interests of ensuring that the wills and other personal planning documents they prepare represent the genuine independent wishes of their clients and can withstand challenge on the basis of undue influence.
The new version of the BCLI Guide is entitled Undue Influence Recognition and Prevention: A Guide for Legal Practitioners. It and the accompanying Reference Aid checklist and flowchart may be downloaded from links at the end of this webpage.
The video “Why the NEW Undue Influence Guide is important to your practice” provides an overview of the features and content of the updated Guide and Reference Aid and explains its value as a practice resource.
The BCLI Guide and the Reference Aid were updated partly because of changes to the law of wills made by the Wills, Estates and Succession Amendment Act, 2020. This amending Act validates remote witnessing of will signature by means of audiovisual technology on a permanent basis looking forward. Previously, remote witnessing had been introduced only as a temporary, pandemic-related measure. The Act also made it possible after 1 December 2021 to make a valid electronic will in British Columbia. These significant changes in law mean that there will be fewer cases in which legal practitioners will be able to closely supervise the execution and attestation (witnessing) of wills. As a result, they will have to be increasingly attuned to verbal and nonverbal behavioural cues on the part of their clients and those around them that are red flags of undue influence.
A second reason for updating the BCLI Guide was to reflect developments in case law concerning undue influence since the original publication was issued in 2011.
The BCLI Guide and Reference Aid were updated with the aid of a multidisciplinary project committee like the one that assisted BCLI in creating the original version of the Guide.
This project was generously funded by the Notary Foundation of British Columbia.
Keywords: undue influence, will, practice, coercion, lawyer, solicitor, notary, client, testator, will-maker
Below you will find additional, relevant and specific documentation, backgrounders, research, resources, media releases and summaries that have been, or will be incorporated into our final publications and study papers.
If you have questions about these or other specific documents, please reach out to BCLI using our contact page or at the bottom of each page of our website.