Making a will or an appointment of enduring guardian or enduring power of attorney during COVID-19 pandemic?
A temporary regulation was introduced by the NSW Parliament on 22 April 2020 to allow for the witnessing of legal documents via video conferencing technology such as Zoom, Loop Up, FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp. The regulation will end on the earlier of six months after it was created, namely by 21 October 2020, on a date decided by the NSW Parliament.
A legal document that can be signed and witnessed under this regulation includes a will, an enduring power of attorney and an enduring guardianship appointment.
Thankfully, now, if you isolating or in quarantine and cannot call into our office to provide instructions for a will, an enduring power of attorney and an enduring guardianship appointment, this will not hinder the process as we can meet by video conference obtain your initial instructions and verify your identity by sighting your current Passport or Drivers Licence.
It is important to ensure that the video conference take place in a confidential setting such as in a private room and on a ne-on-one basis with a solicitor in order for the solicitor to exercise their professional skill, responsibility and diligence in respect of the will, an enduring power of attorney and an enduring guardianship appointment. This also allows you to ensure your discussions with your solicitor remain confidential.
If you do not have access to video conferencing at this point in time, you can also communicate with us using FaceTime on your mobile phone.
Once the documents have been prepared and approved by you, a further video conference will take place to witness you signing the documents in real time. The signing and witnessing of your documents using video conferencing is permitted by the regulation. Before we commence we will need to again verify your identity by sighting your ID documents.
Once we have seen you sign your legal document, we will view your signature on the document and sign an identical copy of your document as witnesses.
When we receive from you either an original copy of the document you signed or a scanned copy we will store the copy signed by you and the witnessed copy together as they will form the one document which evidences your intentions.
This temporary measure will make it easier for people to stay home and reduce physical interactions while effectively completing urgent and important legal transactions.