There is no doubt that in the wake of COVID-19 many people are taking the opportunity to get their affairs in order.
We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people wanting to prepare a Will as quickly as possible.
If you require information or guidance in relation to the preparation of your Will, please do not hesitate to contact us, even if it is for an informal chat.
As a general rule, where a Will has not been signed in the presence of two witnesses, it is necessary to make an application to the Supreme Court, which is heard by a judge, to determine the validity of the Will.
On Wednesday 22 April 2020, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland issued Practice Direction 10 which allows the Supreme Court registrar (rather than a judge) to hear an application in relation to a Will that is not signed in the presence of two witnesses.
However, it is important to note the following aspects of the Practice Direction:
- The Practice Direction will be in place for Wills executed between 1 March 2020 and 30 September 2020.
- The Practice Direction should only be relied upon where the reason the Will could not be signed in the presence of two witnesses is because of either government enforced or recommended, or self-imposed, isolation or quarantine from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The following evidence must be produced with the application:
- The Will was drafted by a solicitor, or a solicitor is one of the witnesses to the Will, or the person supervising the execution of the Will.
- The deceased Will-maker intended the document to take immediate effect as their Will.
- The deceased Will-maker signed the document:
- in the presence of two witnesses being via video conference (but not physically); OR
- in the presence of one witness being via video conference (but not physically).
- The witness or witnesses were able to identify the document executed.
Therefore, if you are in circumstances where you are in quarantine, or unable to leave your home or have two visitors over to witness your Will, you are still able to make a Will.
However, to ensure your executor is equipped to prove with Will without having to incur the cost of making an application to the Court to be heard by a judge, it is important the Will is prepared properly, and the above requirements can be satisfied.
If the above requirements cannot be satisfied, the Will will not able to be considered by the Supreme Court registrar and will be referred to a judge.
If you have any questions in relation to this blog, or if you are in circumstances where you require a Will and you are in quarantine or unable to leave your home or have visitors, please do not hesitate to contact us.