In light of the Government restrictions on our interactions with other people, social distancing practices and self isolation, it has become evident that COVID-19 has presented various difficulties for how we conduct the estate planning process for our clients.
In order to protect our clients and our staff here at Kells, we have implemented the following policies into our estate planning processes:
- All initial instructions are taken by way of a telephone conference rather than a face-to-face appointment
- We then prepare your draft documents based on your initial instructions taken from the telephone conference
- Once prepared, your draft documents are emailed to you, or by post if preferred, for your review and to advise us if you require any changes
- Once you are satisfied with the documents we will implement the most appropriate strategy for signing your documents which is guided by Government directions,your individual personal and health circumstances as well as the health and well-being of our staff.
In the event that you are unable to attend the office to sign your Will due to isolation and social distancing, there are various strategies that can be implemented to ensure that you are not left in the dark with your estate planning needs.
We are able to post your documents to you with detailed instructions for the execution. You Will need to find two independent witnesses, who are not family members or people named in your Will, and who are over the age of 18 years of age. In the event that you do not have access to two independent witnesses, there are measures that we can assist you with to informally sign your Will.
If you do informally sign a Will then you must make arrangements to re-sign your Will in the presence of two independent witnesses once you are in a position to do this. This is to ensure that your Will complies with the formal signing requirements.
More recently, as of 22 April 2020 the NSW Government has amended the Electronic Transactions Regulation 2017 to allow for the electronic witnessing of legal documents, including Wills during the COVID-19 lockdown. This means that we are able to witness your documents for you via an audio-visual link such as Zoom or Skype. This process will involve us watching you sign your Will via the audio-visual platform and then signing a counterpart or scanned copy of the signed Will.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
Kells are here to assist and to ensure that your legal affairs are in order. Our offices remain open and our team are eager to assist you with the challenges you are currently facing with COVID-19.