Witnessing Documents in the Time of Coronavirus
These are strange times.
We are in lockdown but life must continue. We have had a few clients ask how they can sign a deed when they have to be in isolation.
What is a deed?
A deed is a document that needs to be signed when you’re doing something important. This includes buying or selling a house or completing a will. One of the main requirements for a deed is that it needs to be witnessed by another person; or in the case of a will or power of attorney, by two people.
How can you sign the deeds in isolation?
Signing Deeds Electronically
An electronic signature can be used to sign a deed on a computer.
Even the witness can sign the deed electronically but do they still have to be physically present?
Can you witness a document electronically?
Unfortunately, the current rules mean you cannot witness a deed electronically via video-link or Skype. You can sign it electronically but you still have to be physically present when the deed is signed.
The government have said they will review this in light of Covid-19 however they have offered no timeframe on this. Watch this space however.
Practical Steps to Signing in Isolation
Practically speaking, how can you be in the same location as someone yet not in the same room in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus?
You can do this by witnessing the signature through a window (if possible) and then witness it electronically or via a ‘wet-ink’ signature but make sure there is no risk of contamination from passing the document between yourselves.
If you are unable to witness the signature through a window (as for example you are in a high-rise building), then remember the witness needs to be in the same location – either end of a corridor would be fine – just remember the two-metre rule.
Remember to wear masks and to wash your hands after touching anything that may be contaminated. Stay safe people!
If you are concerned about witnesses a document and would like to have a free confidential chat about your options, please do not hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full-service law firm. Witness the fitness.