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Can I witness a document electronically during COVID-19 lockdown?



As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been an increasing number of restrictions put into place regarding movement and gatherings. Therefore, it has become impractical, if not impossible, to arrange for wet signature executions on legal documents. Consequently, the witnessing of legal documents is progressively being conducted electronically.


Electronic witnessing can be undertaken by scanning a hardcopy document containing a physical signature, and signature and sending it through electronically. This process is required to be witnessed through audio-visual software such as Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams. The purpose of the audio-visual link is to authenticate the client’s identity, to confirm the client’s decision-making capacity, and to ensure that the client is signing both freely and voluntarily, rather than signing under duress, undue influence or unconscionable conduct.


Alternatively, rather than physically signing a document, the signature itself can also be administered electronically. Electronic signatures can be conducted via a number of devices, including a tablet, smartphone or laptop. This signature must be accompanied by a statement indicating that the electronic signature was conducted in accordance with the relevant rules and regulations.


In terms of the relevant legislation regarding electronic execution, the states and territories across Australia have initiated temporary law reforms, which have been outlined below.


COVID-19 RESPONSE LEGISLATION REGARDING ELECTRONIC EXECUTION ACROSS THE AUSTRALIAN STATES AND TERRITORIES:




With the world going online, the demand for electronic execution is growing. The law is different from state to state and could impact your current Will or Estate plans. Wills & Estates offers tailored legal advice for your situation with a free no obligation first appointment. Speak to us today – your wishes, your way!


Phone 1800 22 33 90

Email wills@willsnestates.com.au

Or request a free call back on our website

1800 22 33 90

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