Witnessing Wills Virtually in an age of Covid
Over the past few months, with the concerns about the impact of Covid-19, we have found that many of our clients have sought to get their Wills in place or, if they had a Will in place already, to review and update those Wills.
However, with social distancing in place and many clients being reluctant to travel, this has created difficulties as there are strict rules as to how a Will can be executed, including the fact that the Witnesses have to be physically present at the same time.
"We’re therefore pleased to report that the government has now announced that Wills executed in England and Wales will also be legal if witnessed virtually."
This change to the law has been brought in to reassure the public that Wills witnessed via virtual methods would still be legally recognised. This is a huge change to the law surrounding Wills and their execution.
The legislation will come into force in September and will have a retrospective effect, being backdated to all Will signings that have taken place from 31 January 2020 to coincide with the first confirmed case of coronavirus within the UK. The change in legislation will be kept in place until 31 January 2022 with a view to being extended for as long as necessary after that date.
The government has emphasised that the use of virtual witnesses for Will signing should be as a last resort and if possible, physical witnessing where safe to do so should be done.
If the Will is being witnessed virtually, the quality of sound and video must be of such a quality as to be sufficient to see and hear what is happening at the time of signing.
Throughout lockdown our Private Client team has continued to take instructions for Wills and has been able to execute these successfully using a variety of methods, however this news from the government is welcomed and will allow us to provide further options on Will execution and ensure that we protect those most at risk.
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If you have any questions about Wills or any issues relating to Private Client matters then please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Kent.
All information in this update is accurate at the time of writing. It is meant for general information only and is not legal advice.