Thursday, February 11, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has incited some changes in the realms of estate and post-death planning. With the pandemic taking so many lives, many were forced to thinking about planning for their death, and they had nothing but time to do it.
Many are required to self-isolate as to not risk their health or the health of loved ones. This has placed a burden on those that want to have wills executed, given the witness requirements and other things unattainable during the pandemic.
S.9 Wills Act 1837 sets out the requirements for executing and witnessing a will. Changes to current legislation may make it a bit easier to make a will during the global crisis. The "Physical presence" has been expanded to include virtual presence by means of videoconference or other visual transmission.
The temporary change applies to all wills and codicils made between January 31, 2020 and January 31, 2022. After that, the revision will expire and things will go back to the way they once were. "It is important to note that, similar to other COVID-19 measures, the Government has the authority to shorten or extend this two-year period, should it be deemed appropriate to do so."
In regard to "virtual presence" the most important element of virtual witnessing is that all parties have a "clear line of sight." Also, pre-recorded videos are not allowed.
The Government also sets out other helpful rules, regulations, and guidelines to help out.
See Simon Goldring & Elysa Jacobs, Remote Witnessing of Wills: A Step in the Right Direction, McDermott, Will, & Emery, February 10, 2021.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.