Making and updating your Will during COVID-19

Significant events in our lives often prompt us to consider whether our existing estate planning arrangements are appropriate. The impacts of COVID-19 have already been felt by many of our clients and several of them have asked us how to update or make new Wills, without having to meet a solicitor face-to-face.

 

If you are concerned that your existing estate planning arrangements are no longer appropriate or if you do not currently have a Will in place, there are steps you can take right now to ensure that your testamentary intentions are recorded. There are also ways to put suitable documents and structures in place even if you are in isolation.

We think it is essential that you are able to update your estate plan during this difficult time. So, whether you are a new or existing client, we are offering a free initial video conference to discuss your estate plan with us. We will also continue working with you throughout any shutdown period, whether in the office or remotely.

"But how can I sign a valid Will?" 

For your Will to be valid, it needs to satisfy a number of formal requirements.

One of those requirements is that your Will is signed in the presence of two adult witnesses. But a witness should never be someone that will receive a gift under your Will. If they are, your gift to them could become void and fail.

While the Government is currently working on emergency laws that will allow solicitors to witness your Wills electronically, those laws have not yet come into force.

If you are currently working from home or in self-isolation, you may find it difficult to find two adult witnesses who are not beneficiaries under your Will.

"So, what can I do in the meantime?" 

While it is always preferable to make a valid Will, there are some circumstances where a Court will waive the formal requirements and accept a Will that would otherwise be invalid. One thing the Court will look at closely is whether you intend for a particular document to be your Will.

If it is not currently possible for you to sign a valid Will, there are a number of ways that we can help you to ensure that your estate planning intentions are clearly documented.

We are here if you would like to discuss your estate planning options and any other concerns, so please feel free to contact one of the solicitors in our Private Clients group. Alternatively, you can email Terry McCabe, the Principal of the group, directly at terry.mccabe@mccabecurwood.com.au.