How to sign your Wills in isolation and lockdown
Due to the Coronavirus, best practice is to avoid strangers and non-family members. However, a Will is only witnessed by strangers and persons unrelated to you. During ‘lockdowns’ you cannot leave your home. The only witnesses may be your next-door neighbours.
When couples sign their Wills together:
- Print your Legal Consolidated Wills single-sided in black and white. Do not print double-sided. (If you have no printer or no electricity and Australia Post or couriers are still operating then ask a person with a printer to print out and courier you the Wills.)
- Find two people that are: over 18 years of age and of sound mind. The witnesses are not related to you. They have no chance of ever being related to you (e.g. it is not your son’s girlfriend. This is because your son may marry that person. And then you are related to the witness). The witnesses cannot get anything under the Will. The best witnesses are ‘strangers’ or the ‘next-door neighbours’.
- All beneficiaries such as your children move to another part of your home.
- Inside your home move to a closed window or closed glass balcony. Your two witnesses are on the other side of the glass. This is so that you have no contact with each other- other than being able to see and hear your witnesses.
- Get at least 2 identical blue pens. The witnesses can not and should not use a pen that has come into physical contact with you recently – unless it is sanitised. Pick up one of the pens with a tissue and leave it on the outside of the window or glass door before your witnesses are due to arrive. Your witnesses may wear gloves and wipe the pen down with a hand sanitiser.
- Never lose visual sight with each other at any time. For example, if you need to use the toilet during the Will signing then bin the Wills, print them off again and start the process anew. If either of you or either of your witnesses loses sight of each other during the signing process, then tear up the Wills and print out another copy of the Wills and start the Will signing process again.
- You sign your Legal Consolidated Wills on each and every page where marked. Ensure that you date the Wills with the date at which the Wills are signed and witnessed.
- You then ask your witnesses to step away from the glass as far as possible, but without losing sight of you and of each other. You then open the glass and leave the signed Wills on the floor. You then shut the glass.
- Both witnesses move back to the closed glass, pick up the Wills and (WITH THE SIMILAR BLUE PEN) sign each page of the Wills. If you signed with different coloured pens (e.g. a dark blue and a light blue) then tear up the Wills. Print out new Wills and start the process again.
- If you or your witnesses need reading glasses, then do not sign your Will until you put on those glasses.
How to sign Wills in a hospital bed in Australia
Many Accountants are building 3-Generation Testamentary Trust Wills for their clients.
This is how you build and sign clients’ Wills if confined to a hospital bed (on a ventilator or otherwise) and in quarantine:
- Place the unsigned Will on the bed with 3 identical blue pens.
- The patient reads the Will to make sure it accords with their wishes.
- Family, relatives and potential beneficiaries leave the room (they were probably not allowed to be in the room to start with). It is acceptable for other patients to be in the room, provided they are not related to the person signing the Will and, of course, they are not beneficiaries. (The signing of the Will does not need to be a private or solemn affair. A Will could be signed in a public place like a park or through a car window parked on the side of the road.)
- The two witnesses are over 18 years of age and of sound mind. Doctors, nurses, orderlies and strangers visiting the hospital make good witnesses. This is if they are prepared to perform this duty.
- The two witnesses stand at the hospital room doorway or as far as they can from the patient. But they can never lose visual sight:
- At no time can the three people ever lose visual sight of each other.
- The person signing the Will must never lose sight of the two witnesses throughout the entire Will signing.
- The two witnesses must never lose sight of each other and of the Will maker.
- The Will maker must watch the two witnesses fully witness the Will.
- The witnesses must watch each other fully witness the Will.
- The Will maker takes one of the blue pens and signs the Will on each page. And then leaves the Will on the end of the bed.
- One of the witnesses takes the Will together with the two unused blue pens to the doorway (or behind a glass enclosure). The two witnesses sign on every page.
- One of the witnesses puts the now fully signed Will on the bed. The witnesses leave. The witnesses can keep their blue pens or put them in the bin, as they see fit.
- The patient stores the fully signed Will as per the cover letter from Legal Consolidated that came with the Will.
For help signing Wills and POAs telephone Legal Consolidated on 1800 141 612.