Estate Group update: Electronic execution of documents becomes permanent in Victoria

Apr 20, 2021

The Victorian Government has taken a big step into the 21st century by introducing permanent legislation authorising remote witnessing and electronic execution of legal documents, which comes into effect on Monday 26 April, 2021.

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic rendered lawyers and their clients unable to execute documents which previously had to be signed in person and on paper. On 12 May 2020, emergency legislation was brought in Victoria (with similar legislation rolled out nationwide) to allow remote witnessing and execution, as well as electronic signing of documents during the pandemic.

The emergency legislation proved to be an efficient and useful option for practitioners and clients alike, and the introduction of permanent legislation extending beyond the pandemic has largely been welcomed.

The new legislation — what you need to know

The Justice Legislation Amendment (System Enhancements and Other Matters) Act 2021 will come into effect on 26 April 2021, at which time the existing COVID-19 emergency legislation will cease operation.

The new legislation authorises the continued execution of wills, powers of attorney, deeds, affidavits and statutory declarations by both electronic signature and witnessing by remote execution and audio-visual link.

Strict requirements continue to apply around the execution of each type of document and the requirements differ depending on the type of document.

Appointments of Medical Treatment Decision Maker and Advance Care Directives must still be executed in person using ‘wet ink’ rather than electronic signature and cannot be witnessed remotely.

Documents executed under the emergency legislation during the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be effective and are not impacted by the changes to the legislation.

Moving forward, this new legislation will afford clients and practitioners alike flexibility around execution of documents, particularly in times of travel restrictions, health crises and urgency.

More information

If you have any queries with respect to the new legislation, or wish to discuss changes to your existing estate planning documents, please contact a member of our Estate Group below.

Sam Frey,
Principal Lawyer and 
Head of Estate Group
+61 3 8600 8885
E sfrey@kcllaw.com.au
Jennifer Maher, 
Principal Lawyer and
Accredited Wills and Estates Specialist
+61 3 8600 0710
E jmaher@kcllaw.com.au
Paul Beasant,
Special Counsel
+61 3 8600 8817
E pbeasant@kcllaw.com.au
Hayley Hunter,
Senior Associate
+61 3 8600 8806
E hhunter@kcllaw.com.au
Ainsleigh Lugger,
Associate
+61 3 8600 8826
E alugger@kcllaw.com.au
Nicole Fedyszyn,
Lawyer
+61 3 8600 8824
E nfedyszyn@kcllaw.com.au

Author

This Estate Group update was authored by Hayley Hunter, Senior Associate.

Note: This update is a guide only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

BACK