How to write a will during the coronavirus pandemic

Can I make or change a Will during the present coronavirus pandemic?

We have been inundated with enquiries in regards to the preparation of Wills, enduring powers of attorney and enduring guardianship documents since the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Whilst the current lockdown laws have made preparation and execution of these documents problematic, we can still work around these issues and draft or amend your Will and estate planning documents during these unprecedented times

Can you make or change your Will during the coronavirus pandemic?

We have received many calls from our clients who are worried that they cannot attend our office to discuss their estate planning affairs. Undertaking any legal obligation is a reasonable excuse under the recent Emergency Legislation passed by the NSW Government in respect to the coronavirus pandemic. You can still attend our office and we will practise social distancing and have a bottle of hand-sanitizer available for use. If you feel uncomfortable and do not wish to attend our office, we are still able to take instructions via telephone, e-mail, Skype and Zoom.
We are fortunate in this day and age to utilise technology to our advantage which enables us to work from home and engage our clients as we would normally if we were in our office.
We understand how important it is to have your estate planning affairs in order, especially during these difficult times and one of the rare positives of the coronavirus pandemic is that it has brought Wills and estate planning to the forefront of people’s minds and made them realise that this is one matter which they simply cannot ignore or overlook.

How can my Will be witnessed during the coronavirus pandemic?

Normally, a Will is signed by the Testator in the presence of two adult witnesses. It is recommended that the Testator and both witnesses use the same pen in executing the Will and each witness cannot benefit from the Testator’s Will.
As mentioned earlier, undertaking any legal obligation is a reasonable excuse under the recent Emergency Legislation and therefore you are able to attend our office to execute your Will.
If you feel uncomfortable in attending our office, you could have your neighbours witness your Will and we have read reports of people witnessing Wills through windows to minimise contact and continue practising social distancing.

Can I and my witnesses sign the Will electronically?

Yes you can. The NSW Government has passed a regulation being the Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020 which permits the signing of wills, powers of attorney and enduring guardianship documents to be witnessed by audio visual link i.e Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp or Facetime.

The regulation will expire 6 months from 22 April 2020 unless the NSW Government decides otherwise. It is prudent to take advantage of the additional flexibility allowed under the current regulation if you are struggling to find a witness or find it difficult to attend our office.

Any further questions?
Please feel free to contact us on 9307 8900 or [email protected]

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