Wills witnessed by video link to be made legal05/08/2020
New rules allow testators signatures to be witnessed using video conferencing software, allowing wills to be witnessed remotely.
This emergency change in the law will remain in place until January 2022 and brings England and Wales in line with Scotland, Canada and the US. Any will witnessed remotely from 31st January onwards will be legally accepted, to reassure the public regarding any wills that may have been remotely attested during the pandemic.
Under current law, which was set out in the Wills Act 1839, a will must be made in the presence of 2 witnesses but social distancing measures have made this difficult during the pandemic. The change to the legislation to include video witnessing will be made in September.
Video software technology will be considered legal as long as the quality of the sound and video is adequate. The Government has said the use of video technology should remain a last resort, and the public should arrange physical witnessing of wills where it is safe to do so. Where remote witnessing is used, strict precautions must be taken to prevent fraud or undue influence.
The Law Society said the reforms will ‘help alleviate the difficulties that some members of the public have encountered when making wills in the pandemic’.