There has been a high level of concern in the Legal Profession about the ability of lawyers to assist clients with their estate planning and appointment of alternate decision makers, in the context of the current social distancing restrictions. Currently, there are legislative requirements that a Will maker’s signature is witnessed by two people (who are not beneficiaries) in the presence of the Will maker. For both Enduring Powers of Attorney and Appointments of Enduring Guardian, a solicitor (or other authorised witness) is required to be present with the principal when signing the document. The solicitor is also required to give certificates in each case either as to explanation and understanding.
The COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 was passed by both houses of parliament on Tuesday night. Importantly, the legislation gives regulation-making power for altered arrangements for witnessing signatures, including certification of certain matters by witnesses and verification of identity, provided for by an Act or another law. The Acts concerned include the Oaths Act, the Guardianship Act, the Succession Act, the Powers of Attorney Act and the Conveyancing Act. We look forward with great anticipation to the release of the regulations.
In the meantime, we have come up with a ‘drive thru’ solution for our clients and their witnesses to minimise contact while they get their most important affairs in order.
If you would like to make use of this service, we would be pleased to speak with you in an obligation-free consultation to advise you about your options. You can click here to book a telephone appointment or call us on (02) 4050 0330.