Video witnessing of Wills to be legalised as the Government continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.
Blog | 4th August 2020
Wills, Trusts, Tax & Probate
Legislation is set to be introduced permitting use of video-conferencing platforms such as Zoom and FaceTime for the witnessing of Wills being made during the coronavirus pandemic. The change in law which has been brought in to make it easier for people who may be shielding or self-isolating to record their final wishes, will come into force in September and will be backdated to 31st January 2020 – the date of the first registered covid-19 case in the UK. Exceptions to the rule include cases where a Grant of Probate has already been issued in respect of the deceased person and where the application is already in the process of being administered. According to a statement released by the Ministry of Justice, the legislation will remain in place until 31st January 2022 or for as long as deemed necessary.
Current law in England and Wales requires a Will to be witnessed by 2 people who are not beneficiaries and are physically present at the time of signing which has proven to be extremely challenging for some throughout recent months. News of the change in law will be welcomed by many and will enable more people to execute a Will safely during these unprecedented times. Wills still need to be signed by two witnesses and if utilising video technology, the quality of sound and video should be sufficient to see and hear what is happening at the time with witnesses having clear sight of the person signing. However the use of video should remain a last resort and where people can make Wills in the presence of witnesses they should continue to do so.
Simon Davis, the president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said: “The Law Society is glad to see that guidance has been issued to minimise fraud and abuse. We look forward to working with government to ensure the reform is robust and successful.”
There will be a significant number of people who do not have access to video technology however there are a number of ways you can execute a Will safely. KBL’s private client team will continue to support all of our clients whatever their needs and requirements and with adaptions to our usual service we can assist you through this process. If you or your family members require advice or assistance with Wills, lasting powers of attorney, tax planning or asset protection please do not hesitate to contact Maria Lonergan, Partner & Head of Wills, Trusts & Probate at firstname.lastname@example.org or Chris Taylor, Partner at email@example.com or on 01204 527777 or 01254 268790.