The government is introducing new legislation in England and Wales that will allow people to witness a will signing remotely via a video link.
The new legislation will not be place until September however the government intends to back date the law to the 31 January 2020.
Why has the government introduced this change?
Under the current law, for a will to be valid, the testator (person making a will) must sign their will in the physical presence of at least two witnesses. These witnesses cannot be beneficiaries named in the will nor the spouse of a beneficiary. With solicitors’ offices closed, and families isolating together or keeping to their own bubble, it has become difficult to be in the physical presence of two independent witnesses.
The new legislation will make it easier for people to record their final wishes during the pandemic.
When is the new legislation active?
The government will back date the legislation to the 31 January 2020. This will give peace of mind to anyone who had no choice but to ask witnesses to do so remotely.
You can continue to use this method until January 2022 although the government has said it might shorten or lengthen this time period.
What are the criteria for witnessing a will remotely?
Whether using Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp, or any other video technology, the quality of the sound and video must be sufficient to see and hear what was happening at the time. This should prevent undue influence and fraud.
You will still need two witnesses who are aged 18 or over and who are not beneficiaries or the spouse of a beneficiary.
Emily Deane, technical counsel at STEP – Society for Trust and Estate Practitioners – said, “We are delighted that the government has responded to the industry’s call to allow will witnessing over video conference.
“By removing the need for any physical witness, wills can continue to be drawn up efficiently, effectively and safely by those isolating.”
If you need a Will Solicitor in Southport, call us on 01704 532 890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org We can set up a telephone appointment to take your will instructions and then help you set up a video link to sign your will remotely with two witnesses.
Call us now or make a free enquiry