Virtual Witnessing of Wills Permitted During COVID-19

The recent announcement by the UK government (on 25th July 2020) confirming that temporary legislation has been introduced allowing people to virtually witness wills has been welcomed by Private Client practitioners.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the difficulties faced by people who wished to make a will during the unprecedented time of lockdown, and the need for a review of the current Wills Act 1837 requirements that are in place. In order to be valid, a will must be signed in the presence of two independent adult witnesses at the same time, who must then sign in the presence of the person making the will. The need for the physical presence of both witnesses and testator proved increasingly difficult for people socially distancing and shielding during the pandemic.

As a result, temporary legislation has been approved which will allow the virtual witnessing of wills via video. The legislation will retrospectively apply to wills executed virtually from 31st January 2020 and is expected to remain in force until 31st January 2022.

Whilst this news has been welcomed as a ‘common sense’ approach in the current climate, strict execution procedures still need to be adhered to for the will to be valid. It is imperative that the new guidelines for the virtual execution of will are adhered to, as failure to do so could impact upon the validity of the will.

For advice and guidance on will planning, contact our specialist team on 01633 603178 or contact

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