Video Witnessing Of Wills Due To Be Made Legal
We recently commented on a proposal by businesswoman Gina Miller to change the law to allow for Wills to be signed digitally and for Wills to be witnessed via video-conferencing. The Ministry Of Justice has recently announced that video witnessed Wills will be made legal during the coronavirus pandemic.
The planned changes to the law, which will be backdated to 31 January 2020, will allow Wills to be witnessed virtually in England and Wales. The amendment to the Wills Act 1837 will allow people to legally record their final wishes, during the pandemic, remotely.
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)
An important addition to note is that the new rules will be backdated to 31 January 2020 – the date of the first confirmed coronavirus case in the UK. This means any will witnessed by video technology from that date onwards will be legally accepted.
The change in the law will remain in place until 31 January 2022, or as long as deemed necessary. The rules can be shortened or lengthened should the need also arise. The MOJ is still considering a permanent change to the Wills Act to allow for Wills to be witnessed by video call on a permanent basis – should this change be adopted, we will comment further.
Full guidance on the amended law can be found on the Gov.uk website.
If you are considering creating or amending your Will or your Lasting Powers of Attorney, then our dedicated team are on hand to advise and assist you in this process. Contact them on 01903 22 9999 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.