Government allows wills witnessed by video
In the biggest change to the law on wills since 1837 the government has announced that video witnessed wills are to be made legal. In a response to the pandemic, people will be able to sign wills remotely. In the middle of lock down large numbers of people had difficulty in finding witnesses to their wills. Those in isolation who were shielding were often unable to complete wills as a result.
The new law will make it possible to have wills witnessed via video enabling remote witnessing for the first time. These changes are backdated to 31 January 2020 to remove doubts over wills which have already been witnessed remotely by video.
It would be sensible however, to keep it simple where possible and still have physical witnessing of wills in the majority of cases. This is the best safeguard against fraud and avoids reliance on technology which may not always be working clearly. Many older people may not be able to use video or may not have the smartphones or devices required.
This is an important change to the law but to avoid mistakes it is important to take advice. A will which has not been correctly witnessed may not be valid. Beneficiaries named in a will or even their partners should not be witnesses. Witnesses must be over eighteen and contactable in case of a problem later. The new law is set to last until January 2021 although as the pandemic continues around the world many experts expect this timescale to be extended into the future.
Will signing options
We have been continuing to provide advice on making wills throughout lock down and while our preference is still to have wills witnessed in person, we can help with getting your will witnessed at our offices but can use video witnessing as a last resort.