Proving You Exist, As If There Was Any Doubt

Hey, you snowbird you! Good thing you’re staying on the Pacific Coast this winter. That will make tracking you down a whole lot easier, just in case you need a certificate of life.

Why You Need Proof of Life 

You’re full of life, you say. Surely you are but can you prove it? Government agencies, insurance companies or pension plans need proof of your existence to ensure they’re not being defrauded. Proof of life forms, life certificates, certificates of life or certificates of existence give them the legal evidence they need that your benefits are going to the right place. They certify you are alive and still receiving your benefits in good order. Most foreign agencies request a proof of life certificate every year or so and some more often.

Who’s a Victim of Pension Fraud?

Anyone, maybe even you or your family. Identity theft, abuse of pension benefits by surviving spouses, adult children who forget to notify pension plans of deceased parents — fraudsters can be inventive. When they take benefits they’re not entitled to, they may be charged and they or your estate trustee could be liable. 

When You Have a Foreign Pension

Pensioners or beneficiaries who immigrated to Canada or worked abroad can have a genuine need to prove their identity. Ryker moves to Vaughan from Berlin in January 2020. He’s long retired from Deutsche Post AG, Germany’s postal service, and receives a monthly pension. In July 2020, he opens his mail to discover a Declaration for Further Collection of Pension from the Federal Republic of Germany (life certificate) from Deutsche Post’s pension authority. 

Signing the Life Certificate

When Ryker gets the form, he’ll have to sign it and get it notarized. Since COVID-19 keeps him at home most days, he can phone a remote notary public, like Axess Law’s, to arrange a video conference call. By emailing the form to Axess Law, he can get on an online video call with a virtual notary and have his government-issued ID (passport or Canadian driver’s licence) verified on camera. The remote notary will witness his electronic signature and return a dated, stamped and sealed certificate for his use.

Submitting the Notarized Certificate

Ryker has a deadline to return his signed and certified form. He’ll get a reminder and a duplicate form if he misses it. If he still hasn’t got it together, his pension could be suspended. Time is of the essence.

Using Power of Attorney to Sign

Now if Ryker hasn’t signed the certificate because he lacks the mental capacity to understand its legal effect, his legal power of attorney (POA) can sign on his behalf. A copy of the POA document can be returned with the life certificate. 

Contacting a Foreign Embassy or Mission

Ryker can always contact the German consulate general in Toronto if he is uncertain how to proceed or needs to complete other legal documents. It’s no big deal. Life certificates are usually free.

When You Need a Guarantor

Whiel notary publics can verify they confirmed your identity and that you signed the life certificate in their presence, they can’t act as guarantor if you need someone who knows you personally. Ask your bank manager, insurance agent, employer or other authorized official to assist you in that case. You may want to phone the issuing agency if you are uncertain who can sign.

What to Bring to Your Notary Appointment

When you visit a notary, online or in person, bring valid government-issued photo ID. A passport, driver’s licence, permanent residency card, Ontario Photo Card or OHIP photo card should be sufficient. Make sure your ID has your current address if the certificate requires that a notary confirm your residence.

What to Expect

Your notary will:

  • confirm your ID is valid
  • review the form to ensure they have authority to sign it  
  • witness your signature, remotely by video call or in person
  • date and sign the certificate 
  • and affix their notary seal to it.

That’s it. You’re set to go. See you next time.

Notarize a Life Certificate in Ontario

Bring your life certificate to an Axess Law Ontario office. Dial 877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form for an appointment. Drop in to have a certificate witnessed in person at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s notary public services.