Proposed Digital Video Wills Introduction

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With the uncertainty surrounding the easing of and possible re-implementation of lockdown measures in the wake of Covid-19, there are calls for the reform of many processes and legislation that affect how people go about their lives. One such legislation in particular is that of signing and witnessing of Wills.

Currently the Wills Act 1837 states:

No will shall be valid unless—

  • (a)it is in writing, and signed by the testator, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction; and
  • (b)it appears that the testator intended by his signature to give effect to the will; and
  • (c)the signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and
  • (d)each witness either—
    • (i)attests and signs the will; or
    • (ii)acknowledges his signature, in the presence of the testator (but not necessarily in the presence of any other witness),

To put it simply, the Will must be signed and witnessed in person. However, in this socially-distanced age this may not always be possible. Emergency measures have been introduced in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, but so far the UK government have resisted any changes to the law.
Businesswoman Gina Miller is at the front of a campaign to change the law to allow for Wills to be signed digitally and for Wills to be witnessed via video-conferencing. Ms Miller commented: “Laws must reflect changes in society and be updated for the internet age we live in. The government has brought in temporary emergency legislation in other areas such as mental health during the pandemic, and we believe the peace of mind, emotional and financial security that can be gained by updating will legislation far outweighs any other concerns.

“This is not about money but people having the peace of mind that their wishes will be followed. It is shameful that this is not being urgently addressed by the government.”

This pandemic is a prime time for the Government to review and update the Wills Act 1837 to keep with our new age of technology and the digital world, however until such time, the law remains the same.  We continue to assist our clients in these challenging times albeit in different and new ways.  You should therefore not postpone making a new Will, or reviewing your current Will.  We are still working hard with client’s to achieve their wishes and give peace of mind in our current and ever challenging society.

Bennett Griffin LLP are award winning solicitors based in West Sussex with an office in central Worthing.  Our experienced and specialist solicitors offer a comprehensive service and will work with you in an honest, considered, and practical manner.  Our Specialist Team can advise and assist you in relation to making a Will or LPA.  Contact us today on 01903 229999

Disclaimer – Please note that this update is not intended to be exhaustive or be a substitute for legal advice. The application of the law in this area will often depend upon the specific facts and you are advised to seek specific advice on any given scenario.