Wills witnessed via video link to become legal
To facilitate drafting wills in England and Wales during the COVID-19 outbreak, new legislation planned will make it possible for them to be witnessed remotely using video.
According to the government, the new amendment to the law will officially be backdated to the first UK case of coronavirus that was confirmed on January 31.
This change means that any will that is remotely witnessed from that date forward will be accepted as a legal document. This new measure will stay in place up until January 2022, however, the Ministry of Justice has stated that this term may be extended or shortened if it is deemed necessary.
The present law states that a will must always be made with a minimum of two physical witnesses present, but the recent social distancing rules have made this stipulation problematic. Ministers stated that wills witnessed via Zoom, FaceTime and other video conferencing platforms would be accepted as legal, providing the sound and image quality are adequate to hear and see what is taking place.
Two witnesses that do not have beneficiary status will still be legally required to safeguard individuals against fraud and undue influence, and electronic signatures cannot be used.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said:
“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 new law change to include video-witnessing for wills is set to take effect in September.