A measure that has been introduced in some states since the COVID-19 pandemic, is the temporary ability for deeds to be executed electronically.
The legislation enables documents including deeds, to be signed and witnessed electronically, via an audio-visual link. There are varying requirements, from state to state, to ensure the validity of the electronic signings and these all need to be carefully considered, including that these are completed before the legislation expires. In some states, no such legislation has been enacted, and those that have done so will see the legislation expire before the end of the calendar year.
It leaves me wondering how these electronically-signed documents will be treated in the future, years after our current pandemic is ‘forgotten’? Will they be acceptable in a court of law, when our memories of this current event and the relaxation measures allowed, have dimmed?
Another recent interesting case is that of a discretionary trust, where the original trust deed could not be located and only photocopies of the deed could be found. This case was taken to court after a bank proceeded to freeze a trust bank account until the original could be produced. The court ruled that the photocopy was ‘overwhelmingly likely’ to be a copy of the original which could not now be found.
It’s perhaps a timely reminder that we need to retain original signed trust deeds, such as that for a discretionary trust as in this case, or the trust deed for a self-managed superannuation fund as another example. Keeping them until the trust is finally wound up is prudent, and may just save you a trip to court if you can’t locate the original.
Please note this article provides general advice only and has not taken your personal, business or financial circumstances into consideration. If you would like more tailored advice, please contact us today.