Wills can now be completed by video-witnessing
On 25th July, the government announced that the rules regarding how a Will can be signed and witnessed are being amended in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Previously, the law stated that a Will must be signed in front of two independent witnesses who were present at the time the Will was signed. If the witnesses were not physically present at the Will signing, the Will would be deemed invalid.
However, due to Covid-19, the government has decided to (temporarily at least) amend the witnessing rules to state that a person (testator/testatrix) may sign their Will and have their Will witnessed remotely via video calling, using platforms such as Zoom or FaceTime.
The aim of this is to ensure that people who are shielding or isolating are still able to make a valid Will.
This shall mean that the witnesses would be able to watch the person sign their Will via video calling, providing that the picture and sound quality is sufficient. The witnesses shall subsequently sign the Will either in person or via video link with the testator/testatrix.
The government have advised that the initial signing and subsequent witnessing of the Will should be completed within 24 hours but they understand that this may be unavoidable due to posting delays.
It should be noted that a Will is not a legal binding document until it has been signed by the testator/testatrix and both witnesses.
If the testator/testatrix dies before both witnesses have signed the Will, then the Will shall be deemed invalid so it is important the signing and witnessing are both done as closely as possible in terms of time.
The amended rules will be brought into force in September 2020 but will be backdated to 31st January 2020. The changes are extremely significant and acknowledge that technology can be used to make the Will making process easier.
It should also be noted that the amendment to the law does not allow the use of electronic signatures and the Will should still be signed in ink by the testator/testatrix and the witnesses.
The government have released a step by step guide as to how Wills can be signed via video link which you can access here.
To make a new Will or to review an existing Will, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Further information can be found here.