The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has evolved the adoption of technology in our daily lives and work. In order to continue life and commerce during lockdowns the laws were changed to widen the use of electronic signing and execution of documents. While contracts, leases and other standard documents are often signed remotely questions started to be raised on whether another document could be signed remotely, a person’s last Will and Testament.
In Victoria the Wills Act 1997 (Vic) (the Act) provides how a Will needs to be executed in order for the document to be valid. Historically a Will must be signed by a testator in the physical presence of two individuals, this physical presence was non-negotiable and was a requirement for validity.
However, the Victorian Parliament has recognised that in the post-COVID world it is not always practical and they passed permanent amendments to the Act with the inclusion of Section 8A to allow for the remote signing of Wills.
In brief, Section 8A of the Act provides:
The legal community has been very hesitant to take advantage of section 8A of the Act as the amendments are new. It is an understandable aversion given that the Will may not be valid if the remote signing procedure is not followed precisely.
Fortunately, in the recent case of Re Curtis [ 2022] VSC 621 the Supreme Court of Victoria has provided some practical guidance on how testators and the witnesses can effectively execute a Will remotely.
In Re Curtis the Supreme Court has advised that, in addition to the requirements of Section 8A of the Act, the following practical measures should also be observed when signing a Will remotely:
As a result of these changes, we can assist clients who cannot attend the office physically to sign their Will. We can take your instructions and advise you online to complete your Will and if required Powers of Attorney.
At PCL Lawyers we ensure that your Will is drafted to suit your circumstances and you are aware of any issues that may impact the beneficiaries or end in an estate dispute. This makes it much easier for the executors, usually a loved one, to deal with the administration of your estate and probate.
We give careful consideration and can provide clear and effective advice on a range of matters concerning estates, Part IV disputes, testamentary trusts and more.
Contact one of our Wills lawyers to get advice on preparing your Will and estate planning.
Disclaimer: This article has been prepared for general information purposes and may not apply to your situation. This information should not be relied upon for legal, tax or accounting advice. Your individual circumstances will alter any legal advice given. The views expressed may not reflect the opinions, views or values of PCL Lawyers and belong solely to the author of the content. © PCL Lawyers Pty Ltd.
If you require legal advice specific to your situation please speak to one of our team members today.
Philip is a Senior Associate and leads the Wills and Estates practice group at PCL Lawyers. He advises clients across a wide range of complex estate planning matters, the administration of deceased...
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