Virtual witnessing of Wills to benefit Victorians

Leading law firm Maurice Blackburn has welcomed the Victorian Government’s move to allow video conferencing technology for the signing and witnessing of Wills and other important legal documents.

The firm, which has seen a 38 per cent increase in Wills inquiries this year compared to last year, said the emergency regulations introduced would ensure Victorians could make valid Wills while still maintaining social distancing rules.

“The rigour around the signing of Wills reflects the importance of a Will, but we welcome the Victorian Government’s introduction of some short-term solutions during the health crisis,” said Andrew Simpson, head of the firm’s Wills and Estates practice.

Queensland and New South Wales have already introduced virtual witnessing for Wills.

In Australia, a valid Will must be signed by the Will maker in the presence of two witnesses, but social distancing restrictions have made it more difficult for people to get a Will properly witnessed.

Mr Simpson said in addition to the new video conferencing options, witnesses for Will makers in Victoria could also include:

  • Two colleagues, if you are still attending a workplace outside your home
  • Two people you encounter as part of an allowable activity, such as attending a medical appointment
  • Two adults in your home as part of a permitted family and friends visit of up to five people
  • Two people as part of a permitted outdoor gathering of 10 people
  • Two adults in your household, such as housemates and family members

Mr Simpson said a properly witnessed and valid Will would avoid the cost and uncertainty of someone trying to prove an invalid Will after your death.

“But always use common sense, and make sure you’re not putting yourself or others at risk of breaking the law or spreading disease.”

Source: Maurice Blackburn Lawyers