Latest News

Law change now recognises Wills witnessed by video link

August 3, 2020

 

On July 25th, ministers acted to reassure the public that the use of video link software to witness Wills/Codicils is to be legally recognised.

Understandably, as many people have been isolating or shielding, video link software has offered a sound alternative under the current statement of law, which details that a will must be made ‘in the presence’ of at least two witnesses.

The Government’s planned law change which allow wills to be witnessed virtually in England and Wales will be backdated to 31st January 2020 and will remain in place until 31st January 2022, or longer if deemed necessary. Wills/codicils must return to being made with witnesses physically present thereafter. Virtual instances of witnessing wills are to maintain the safeguarding measure of requiring two witnesses to protect people against undue influence and fraud.

When will it be passed and what do you need to know?

The new legislation will be passed in September 2020.

It is vital to understand however that the use of video should be considered a last resort and that people must continue to arrange physical witnessing where it is safe to do so. Wills still need to be signed by two witnesses who are not its beneficiaries (or spouses of beneficiaries), and electronic signatures will not be permitted.

The Government’s guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-on-making-wills-using-video-conferencing.

Thomson & Bancks has summarised the recommended process for your benefit below.

  • Video Link 1 = The person making the will/codicil signs the document watched by the witnesses by video-link.
  • The document is then posted or delivered to the witnesses, preferably within 24 hours.
  • Video Link 2 = The witnesses sign the document watched by the person making the will/codicil by video-link.
  • Video Link 3 = If necessary and where the witnesses are not physically together for the second video-link meeting, there should be a third video-link meeting.
  • All video-link meetings should be recorded if possible.

The most important aspect in the use of video is that the person making the will and the two witnesses have a clear line of sight of the writing of the signature. As long as this is clear, the platform by which it is performed doesn’t matter. Facetime, Skype, Zoom, Teams; by phone, tablet or computer, any appropriate software and hardware can be utilised.

 

 

Thomson & Bancks welcome the Government’s planned law change and the intent to backdate as far back as the first registered Covid-19 case in the UK. This should give the community and those most vulnerable the confidence that wills can continue to be drawn up efficiently, effectively and safely by our dedicated team.

If you want to make or update your Will, please do get in touch.

Contact our experts today

If you would like more information on this topic, please contact our team today using the form below.

Contact our experts today

If you would like more information on this topic, please contact our team today using the form below.

Get in touch

Talk to our expert solicitors about your legal requirements