Given the unprecedented times we are experiencing, we all reflect on our lives and whether we have done enough to ensure our plans are robust to withstand an uncertain future. This may include one’s estate planning.
In our article in these uncertain times we have got you covered, we outlined possible ways you could continue to provide instructions in relation to your estate planning needs. The difficulty then arises, how can we sign and have the documents witnessed.
There is generally a requirement that Wills, enduring powers of attorney, appointments of enduring guardians, appointments of medical decision-maker and the like must to be signed in the physical presence of the witnesses. The current regime of social distancing and self-isolation, has resulted in significant hurdles for clients to finalise their estate planning.
Noting the difficulty of social distancing and self-isolation, the NSW Government, on 22 April passed Regulations which allow for the signing and witnessing of your estate planning documents (Wills etc) by audio-visual link, including video conferencing.
The ACT and Victoria have now enacted similar provisions for the witnessing of documents in those jurisdictions.
In each of these jurisdictions, it is not possible for the witness to merely observe the documents being signed over audio-visual link and consider that job done. Rather, the document needs to be amended to describe the steps the witness took to ensure the document was appropriately signed. We have prepared a series of such statements, and are able to apply these to our documents with ease.
In the months that have passed since this article was first released in April 2020, we have witnessed a range of documents via audio-visual link in the ACT, NSW and Victoria, and are well-placed to assist you as well.
We understand the importance of having your estate planning in order and we have developed strategies to assist you complete your estate planning, while complying with the requirements of social distancing.
If you want to discuss your estate planning or wish to use NSW law audio-visual link to finalise your estate planning, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (02) 6181 2050.
Article By: Timothy Morton
Wills & Probate Lawyer
Tim has acted in a number of complex probate litigation cases where the capacity and knowledge and approval of the willmaker was in doubt or where there have been concerns about whether the willmaker was unduly influenced by another person. Tim also regularly appears in the Guardianship Tribunal of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.