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Written by Pippa Colman

On the evening of 22 April 2020, the Queensland Parliament passed the “COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill”. One of the effects of this Bill is to address how Wills can be witnessed during the COVID-19.

A Will must be witnessed by two people. If the Will is found to not have been properly witnessed, there may be difficulties with the Court to grant probate for (or approving) the Will. And the process for your loved ones to apply to the Court to have the Will approved is expensive, difficult, risky and will generally require a hearing before a Judge, who may or may not make the Order that you want.

If Wills cannot be witnessed properly due to the COVID-19 isolation restrictions, the Supreme Court of Queensland has made a direction which means that you will be able to make “Corona Wills” and there is a good chance that such Wills would be accepted in an Application for Probate.

The requirements are:

  1. The Will must have at least one witness (instead of two);
  2. The witness can be “present” by way of a video conference;
  3. A solicitor must have drafted the Will or have been the witness or supervised the signing of the Will.

At this stage, the legislation is unclear about the meaning of video conference. We think that a video conference will apply to a witness who is present via Skype/Zoom/Facetime to witness the person making the Will signing it.

At this time, the new witnessing provisions applies to Wills made in the period of March 2020 to September 2020.

Watch this space for more information.