While the legislation varies from state to state, the general position is that documents requiring witnessing, such as deeds, wills, and enduring powers of attorney are unable to be signed electronically.

This is obviously inconsistent with the way technology is evolving and the services offered by a range of providers, including Docusign.

With the development of new protocols such as electronic conveyancing, it is likely only a matter of time before the legislation is amended to expressly allow electronic signing in all jurisdictions.

In the meantime however, the conservative approach is that all trust deeds should be signed with ‘wet’ signatures and retain original copies.

In relation to trusts which have historically been established electronically, NI’s deed of ratification should be sufficient to satisfy third parties such as financiers regarding the validity of the trust (provided it is signed with a ‘wet’ signature), however there is a risk that further steps may be required if, for instance, the trust deed is required for Court proceedings.

While NowInfinity does allow the functionality of signing documents digitally, please note that documents executed by way of use of electronic signatures may not be accepted as being legally effective, including by financial institutions, statutory authorities and government departments. NowInfinity does not offer any advice as to whether any documents may be validly executed using electronic signatures.

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