Wills can now be witnessed by a video link
In a response to the logistical problems created by the recent pandemic the government has announced that it will now be acceptable to have a will witnessed by a video link in England and Wales. Furthermore, this change in the law will be backdated to 31 January, which coincides with the date of the first coronavirus case in the UK. Initially this arrangement will remain in place until 2022 but could be shortened or extended, if the Ministry of Justice deems it necessary.
Prior to the change a will needed to be witnessed in the physical presence of at least two witnesses however, restrictions on office opening and social distancing have made this difficult. The people who witness the will (or their married partners) cannot be left anything in the will.
The video link will need to be of a good quality to ensure that viewers can determine what was said and by who. Electronic signatures will not be permitted.
Quoted by BBC News, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said:
“We know that the pandemic has made this process more difficult, which is why we are changing law to ensure that wills witnessed via video technology are legally recognised. Our measures will give peace of mind to many that their last wishes can still be recorded during this challenging time, while continuing to protect the elderly and vulnerable.”
The government has said that whilst video can now be used it should be seen as a last resort.
Commenting on the changes Pictons Partner Siobhan Rooney said:
“The legal profession has been calling for this change to be made and we are delighted that video witnessing is now possible. We have been working alongside our clients to get wills witnessed but this change should improve the process, especially where someone is isolating.”
If you need help with a will or probate matter please contact our team who will be pleased to help.
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