Until recently, strict requirements applied to the witnessing of Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney which necessitated a face-to-face meeting. For instance, according to legislation:

  • A Will must be signed by the Will maker before two adult witnesses and who sign the Will in the presence of the Will maker and one another (s 7, Wills Act 1997).
  • An Enduring Power of Attorney must be signed by the person making the document (‘the Principal’) before two people who witness the Principal sign the document, and who are then required to sign the document with the Principal (and with one another) and certify that the Principal freely made the document (s 34, Powers of Attorney Act 2014). There are various requirements about the qualification of the witnesses and their relationship to the Principal and attorney appointed under the documents.

However, these documents can now be temporarily signed and witnessed remotely pursuant to new regulations which are in force until 24 October 2020. The COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) (Electronic Signing and Witnessing) Regulations 2020 (Vic)which came into effect on 12 May 2020, were introduced in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  They allow certain documents to be signed and witnessed via audio visual link, which means for example that a Will can be signed and witnessed without the testator and two witnesses being in the same room but instead via an electronic process.