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. It is not as simple as having a video conference and that is it. The witnesses need to take further steps, but it is a step in the right direction.

Notwithstanding the lead shown by NSW, the ACT, Victoria and Queensland does not yet have similar provisions.  At this time, it is not clear whether these other jurisdictions will follow the lead of NSW.

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 to finalise your estate planning, you can contact us at estates@fgd.com.au or by calling (02) 6181 2050.

Craig Painter, Modern Lawyer

Article By Craig Painter, Director at FGD