12 August 2020
Wills that are witnessed using video technology such as Zoom, FaceTime and Skype are to be made legal in England and Wales.
The Government is temporarily changing the law to make it easier for people to record their wishes during the coronavirus pandemic.
This will be backdated to January 31, 2020 and it is expected to remain in place until January 31, 2022, although this could be shortened or extended if the Government thinks it is necessary.
Under current law, which is set out in the Wills Act 1839, a Will must be made in the presence of two witnesses. However, social distancing measures have made this difficult. The change to the legislation to include video witnessing will be made in September.
The Ministry of Justice has said that Wills witnessed using video technology will be legal as long as the quality of the sound and video was sufficient to see and hear what was happening at the time.
Two witnesses, who are not beneficiaries will still be required, to help protect people against undue influence and fraud.
However, the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said the use of video technology should remain a last resort and people must continue to arrange physical witnessing of Wills where it was safe to do so.
The change has been welcomed by The Law Society and also by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), of which Lucy Watson, who heads the Wills and Probate team at Phillips Solicitors incorporating Brain Chase Coles, is a member.
Welcoming the news, Lucy said: “While we at Phillips have adapted our processes to accommodate Wills being witnessed at home, some clients still struggle to find two witnesses, especially if they are vulnerable or shielding.”
“I think the change in the law to legally recognise Wills using video technology is a positive step and I welcome that. However, in practice I expect that clients will only take advantage of this change when conventional signing options have been considered and ruled out”.
Our Wills and Probate team are ready and able to help you make your Will in the way that suits your personal circumstances, while following the Government’s health and safety guidelines.
Alternatively, click here to go to our contact page.
During these difficult times our Town Gate office in Basingstoke is temporarily closed to visitors unless by prior appointment when meeting in person is essential. However, thanks to our lawyers being able to work remotely, Phillips remains fully open for business and can discuss your legal matters by telephone and video conference.
This article is current at the date of publication set out above and is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.
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