Ordinarily a Will must be signed and witnessed by two persons in the presence of each other and the person making the Will to be legally valid. However, in response to COVID-19 and social distancing measures, both the ACT and NSW governments implemented temporary procedures to allow for Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney and other important legal documents to be witnessed remotely by audio visual link (eg via zoom).
This means that the current and any future COVID-19 related lockdowns will not impact upon your ability to finalise your important estate planning documents.
There are some important steps that must be followed to ensure that your Will is signed and witnessed correctly under the electronic witnessing procedures.
For an electronic and remote witnessing appointment you can expect the following:
- You will be provided with a copy of your Will that should be available in hard copy for your appointment
- At your appointment you will be required to appear by audio visual link through a service such as Zoom, Facetime or Skype that allows us to both see and hear you
- If required, a second witness will also appear together or separately by audio visual link
- We will check to make sure that the Will you are signing is the correct and identical document
- You will be observed signing your Will
- We and your witness will then sign a copy of the document (scanned and sent to us electronically) or a counterpart copy of your Will
The procedures for signing and witnessing a document remotely are quite complex. To ensure your important documents are legally valid you should engage a solicitor that understands the remote witnessing procedures to assist you with the above process.
Elringtons Lawyers are operating business as usual and have adapted to continue to assist our clients and community with the preparation of their important estate planning documents throughout the lockdown and in future. If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment to discuss your Will or other estate planning matters please contact our office on 02 6206 1300.