Wills and Enduring Power of Attorneys EPAs are not binding unless they are properly signed and witnessed. Although every legal document has particular requirements for signatures to be witnessed, but there are even stricter rules for Wills and EPAs. Following the current limitations imposed by Government on movement and social distancing guidelines, which could prove a challenge.
Temporary Law Alteration for Signing
During this current pandemic, in an effort to ease the signing and witnessing requirements, the Government has announced a temporary law alteration to modify the fundamentals for signing and witnessing Wills. While Wills must still be in writing and are required to be signed by the Will maker in the presence of two witnesses, the change in the law now permits the usage of audio-visual links such as Zoom, Skype or Zoom for Wills to be signed and witnessed.
There are some steps that are required to be followed:
- Step1: Sign the Will by audio-visual link in front of two witnesses by Will maker.
Witnesses can participate in process from different locations.
- Step2: Witnesses will sign copy of the documents in front of the will-maker by audio-visual link. It is mandatory that Will must include a note that it is signed via audio-visual link because an epidemic law is imposed by government.
- Step3: Signed copies must be scans then be sent to an individual, a lawyer or trust company, who has been chosen to hold the document.
All Physical signed documents must be kept safely, when possible, send to the lawyer.
The alterations order will terminate after the Epidemic Preparedness Notice 2020 is lifted, and the legal system will return to its standard form. The Wills signed under Epidemic Notice following above procedure are valid and there is no need to draft a new Will after the current Epidemic Notice cancellation.
Will without Signed and Witnessed
Most of the people, while in isolation, are not going to be capable to achieve having their Will signed properly. The Will-maker may be still sign the Will without being witnessed and kept in isolation until after limitations by government got expired. Rest assured those Wills are not legally valid that do not obeys the set legal requirements until signed and witnessed by two witnesses properly.
If the Will-maker dies before proper signing and having the Will witnessed, and before the limitations are lifted, the Wills Act gives direction to the High Court to make an order stating a Will to be force able even if it doesn’t satisfy all the legal requirements.
Enduring Powers of Attorney
EPAs permit a timely supervision of your matters in case of loss of mental capability, an accident, or while you are outside of New Zealand. An EPA for an estate will provide the right for someone to carry out specific functions for you such as buying or selling property or paying their bills. An EPA in association with individual care and welfare will only be valid if you lack the potential to make those conclusions yourself and in that circumstance, your lawyer will be working with your doctor or health professional to make decisions regarding your best interest.
It is the right time to review your Will and EPAs to ensure that documents reflect your current wishes. Get the competent legal consultation and consider making arrangements to have them in place.