Witnessing wills in the time of coronavirus

By 30th August 2020 Wills No Comments

An update on our previous blog How to make or amend a will during a pandemic

As the law stands, a will must always be made in the presence of at least two witnesses, and as you can imagine that can be a challenge during a pandemic while people are isolating and shielding.

In our previous blog, we suggested some solutions on getting a will witnessed during social distancing but since then the government announced the planned legislation to allow wills to be witnessed virtually in England and Wales.

On July 25th, ministers reassured us that wills witnessed via video link will be legally recognised and changes will come into force with new legislation this September.

The Will Act 1837 will be temporarily amended to specify that where wills must be signed in the ‘presence’ of at least two witnesses, their presence can be either physical or virtual.

The reforms will be backdated to the 31st of January 2020, so any wills that were witnessed by video from that date will be completely legal. The new changes will continue until the 31st of January 2022 or as long as it is needed.

Some important notes on the temporary legislation:

  • Good quality video and sound will be needed for the video -witnessing, everyone must be able to see and hear what is happening.
  • The use of video-witnessing will only be used as a last resort and physical witnessing must continue where it is safe to do so.
  • Wills witnessed in driveways, through windows or with a two-metre distance are also legal as long as there is a clear view of the witness signing.
  • Electronic signatures are not permitted.
  • Wills still need to be witnessed by two independent witnesses that are not beneficiaries, read who cannot be your witness here.

 

If you want to make or amend your will please contact us via our contact form or by calling your local DMA Law office. Our Life Planning team will update you on current laws, look at your individual needs and help you make or legalise your will.