Victorians are currently facing significant restrictions which can make the traditional method of signing Wills and Powers of Attorney extremely difficult. Usually, a will needs to be signed by the testator in the presence of two independent adults (who are not related to the testator, nor named in the Will). Many questions have arisen about how this can be achieved in light of the current restrictions.
Alternatives to the traditional requirements have been permitted under the COVID-19 Omnibus (emergency measures) (Electronic signing and witnessing) Regulations 2020, which enables us to witness Wills and Powers of Attorney via audio-visual link. In order to do this, we establish a video conference and confirm that the person or people signing the documents are alone in the room. It is important that the connections allows us to both hear and see you clearly, and that we are able to see you physically sign each page of the Wills, and the appropriate pages of the Power of Attorney. The new legislation provides regulation as to the supplementary documentation we need to complete when witnessing in this manner.
If you do have the option of signing documents in the physical presence of two witnesses, we still recommend this as the preferred option. For example, you may make arrangements with your neighbours that you will stand on their front porch and sign each page of the Will while they watch through the window. When you have completed, you may leave the Will and the pen you used for them to disinfect and collect, after which they can both sign each page as the witnesses to your signature, and leave the fully signed document in a safe place for your collection.
Alternatively, you may be in a position whereby you are able to make arrangements with your GP or local police station to sign at their premises (within 5 km of your home). This is still the preferred option for signing Powers of Attorney, where possible.
If you have finalised a Will or Powers of Attorney and would like to sign the documents using the video-conferencing method, contact the Burke & Associates office to make arrangements for a videoconference appointment.