When it comes to new technology, software and gadgets I am up there with the best of them.  In fact, I am even getting excited about the Samsung Fold Phone when it comes out later this year.  Try it, like it and incorporate it into my life – both business and personal, is the way I do things.  Some things work and others well, they come and go.

And you know I love innovation; the new LightYear Docs Family bloodline suite of documents and strategies is something I have been building, strategising, thinking about for more than 18 months.  We have just finalised the Family bloodline suite and I am so excited to teach and show you how it works, why it works and more importantly in the current times, why these documents and strategies are ‘must haves’ for high-net-worth clients.

Now don’t get me wrong – our simple SMSF is as good as it gets – fresh, covers my best strategies and is up to date with all the laws and potential changes any new Labor Government may bring. But the new strategies and technology to provide a solid, certain, secure and compliant bloodline plan for a client and their family – well, it just can’t be beaten.  And apart from LightYear Docs, it is the best work that I have ever done.

Now in terms of innovation, digital signatures are right up there.  Personally, I love them when it comes to signing for something small like parcels that come to the door and payWave is a blessing.  But would I use a digital signature for buying a car, entering into a lease or purchasing a property?  What about scanning my phone, like payWave, as an identifier and signatory.  No way.  These transactions are way too important for all parties to the transaction to not take the time to read and eyeball the documents and put pen to paper.  It is a lot more painful but in reality, a signature is a signature is a signature and the downside of getting it wrong, particularly in today’s litigious environment is significant.

The real problem with digital signature platforms is:  Who ever reads a document when going through the signing process?  Not me, although my legal training ensures that I take a good look, but thorough, not really.  And doing it on a phone?  Cognition of what you are signing is limited.  I am sure we will see a lot of legal cases where clients, who may want out of a transaction or have lost money, will use the argument that they did not know what they were signing.  And with recent negligence cases and also the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, if one gets up, they will all get up.

Of course, I can see where clients are across the world that a digital signing solution would be great or in cases where there is a tight time-frame but if you ask me, a better solution for those tight situations may be digital, followed up by the hard copy documents for signature.

Now I have read all the legal commentary from around the world on digital signatures and it can best be reduced to the following:

  1. Deeds must be signed with a pen – digital signatures aren’t good enough. As I love to do deeds for all manner of agreements to provide security, digital signatures don’t get a look in.
  2. It’s best practice that, where an individual signs a contract, deed or document between parties, it should be witnessed, particularly if it is a big or important transaction.  And having built a lot of new, fresh documents and strategies with LightYear Docs we have inserted witnessing as common practice.  Now I don’t care what you say, witnessing is an in-person event. 
  3. For company interactions with ASIC or the ATO, digital signing is good as a record of action or interview but it only where it is an authorisation action for an agent when dealing with the Regulators.
  4. For company resolutions where all the directors agree to the use of digital signatures, it is fine.
  5. For documents like Binding Death Benefit Nominations and Directions which need witnessing, a written signature is required.

With LightYear Docs we will be offering the world’s best digital solution HelloSign but only on those documents that we have had legal opinion on that there are no legal ramifications in using a digital signature.  This is not being old-fashioned but safe, secure, compliant and certain.

And as a final word, our RPA strategies, those strategies which have been automated for simplicity and efficiency, can be completed in minutes when it may have normally taken weeks.  Some of the ones I am building, such as the transfer of business real property into an SMSF, have more than nine serious legal documents built within them, each representing different areas of law from tax, super, land and succession.  It is vital to print these out in a line, separate them and take clients through each document and what it means and requires.  Compliance requires it, as does your PI.  So print and get out your best ‘signing pen’.