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Using Electronic Signatures and Witnessing for Wills and Powers of Attorney


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of disruption for people seeking legal help. The Victorian Government has recently announced a temporary regulation allowing Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney to be signed and witnessed electronically while social distancing is required. The new measures came into effect on May 12th 2020 and will last until October 24th 2020.

While these temporary regulations are in place the execution, alteration and revocation of a Will or Power of Attorney can be done through an electronic video call. This opportunity provides access to an important legal service during this pandemic, especially for this with health conditions or vulnerabilities who are not able to have contact with witnesses.

Along with allowing electronic signatures and witnessing, the regulations will also make allowances for the participants’ signatures to be on separate copies of the same document.

How electronic signatures will work:

Electronic Wills and Powers of Attorney are still required to meet the same criteria regarding witnesses and capacity to make decisions. All participants will be required to sign the documents with an electronic signature and be on a video conference call. There will also be statements acknowledging that the document was signed electronically and that it complies with the regulations set out in the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) (Electronic Signing and Witnessing) Regulations 2020.

As always, protecting the interests of the client is extremely important in legal matters. To protect people who are creating or altering their Wills via electronic measures it is recommended that at least one of the witnesses be a lawyer or Justice of the Peace etc. Allowing electronic signatures and witnessing for Wills and Powers of Attorney will let all people be confident that their wishes are protected and up-to-date while keeping everybody safe.

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