Keeping your Social Distance but need a new Will? – The Covid-19 Witnessing of Documents Rules

In response to the COVID-19 lockdown laws and social distancing guidelines, NSW Parliament has introduced the Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020. Under this new regulation, Wills, enduring Powers of Attorney and appointments of Enduring Guardian can be witnessed and signed over Audio Visual Link (AVL). The Rules about the validity of documents need to still be followed, and the new regulations only change the way that they can be signed or witnessed.

Audio Visual Link includes Skype, Facetime, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom Meetings – we just need to be able to see and hear you in real time.

How do we witness your documents?

To validly witness a document using AVL we will need to:

  1. Verify your identity. We will ask you to forward to our office a copy or copies of identity documents such as driver licence and/or passport. We will then ask you to hold up that document during the AVL.
  2. Observe you signing the document in real time. This means we will need to watch you sign the document, at the same time as you sign it.
  3. Sign the document or a copy of the document as a witness. We may sign a separate counterpart of the document or you may scan and send us the document and we can sign the scanned document. If the document is a Will, you will need to see us sign the counterpart or copy.
  4. We then endorse the document and each copy with a statement that the witness used AVL to witness the signing and the document was witnessed in accordance with the regulations.

These new Regulations are in force until 22 October 2020, but it is likely that this will be extended during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We are still taking face-to-face appointments. We are observing social distancing guidelines, sanitising our board room in between meetings and keep records of face-to-face appointments for NSW Health. 

Should you require more information please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team, who would be more than happy to assist you.