Managing your Estate Planning and Legal Affairs during COVID-19 New Electronic Witnessing Laws

As mentioned in our recent article “Making a Will and Estate Planning during the COVID-19 lockdown”, the NSW Government was planning to introduce measures allowing documents to be witnessed without requiring face-to-face contact with a solicitor during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the making of the Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020 (NSW), these changes have now been instituted. Introducing a new process of digital witnessing, the law allows for the witnessing of certain documents across a video and audio link such as Zoom, FaceTime, or similar.

Estate Planning documents that can now be witnessed electronically include:

- Wills;

- A Power of Attorney or an Enduring Power of Attorney; and

- An Enduring Guardianship Appointment.

Additional documents that can now also be witnessed electronically include:

- A deed or agreement/contract;

- An affidavit, including an annexure or exhibit to the affidavit; and

- A statutory declaration.

What do I need to do?

When having a document witnessed electronically, you need a valid form of identification, as well as a copy of the document you are signing present. After confirming your identity, and that the document is what it is supposed to be signed, the solicitor can witness your signing of the document as required.

The solicitor can then either receive from you a scanned copy of the signed document for themselves to sign as witness, or alternatively sign their own copy of the document, stating that it was witnessed in keeping with the new law.

What does this mean?

Previously, to engage many key legal services, you needed to physically meet with a solicitor and/or another witness to ensure documents were signed in the legally required manner. For many, especially for those dealing with Estate Planning matters this may put themselves or their loved ones in unnecessary danger. Now, for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can continue managing your legal affairs without the risk of jeopardizing the health and safety of those you care about.

Now is the time to pick up the phone and/or email Gavin Parsons and Associates, to finalise your Estate Planning or other matters. To discuss your legal matters, setting up a Will, your Estate Planning options and/or proper execution of same, we are here to advise you in the safest manner permitted by law. Make your worries about all of this a distant memory, from a distance, with the assistance of Gavin Parsons and Associates.

For further information on Wills, Estate Planning and legal advice please contact Gavin Parsons by telephone on (02) 9262 4471 or directly by email to gavin@gpalaw.com.au.

gavinparsonsadm

Date posted: 2020-05-27