Coronavirus Blog Series:
Video-Witnessed Wills Now Legal in England & Wales
Published 28 July 2020
The UK Government has announced that wills witnessed remotely or virtually will become legal in England and Wales. The move is designed to make it easier for people to record their final wishes during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
The law currently states that a will must be made ‘in the presence of’ at least two witnesses. However due to lockdown restrictions and ongoing social distancing measures, this has not always been possible. Many people have instead reverted to using video communication platforms (Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp) to compose their will and have it witnessed.
The Government has confirmed that wills witnessed in such a way will be deemed legal, as long as the quality of the sound and video is acceptable to see and hear what is taking place. The Will should still be witnessed by two individuals who are not beneficiaries.
The measures will be backdated to 31 January 2020 (the date of the first confirmed coronavirus case in the UK) therefore any will witnessed by video from that date onwards will be legally accepted.
This will remain in place until 31 January 2022, or as long as deemed necessary, after which wills must return to being made with witnesses who are physically present. Where possible and safe, people should still continue to arrange the physical witnessing of wills.
While there is no announcement that these measures will extend to Northern Ireland, MKB Law remain hopeful the same approach will be applied to this jurisdiction in due course.
This article is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional legal advice. Source: Gov.uk