On Monday 28th September 2020, a Statutory Instrument came into force to legalise the witnessing of Wills via video. This Statutory Instrument will act as a temporary amendment to the Wills Act of 1837. The reform will apply to any Will that was witnessed via video conferencing from 31st January 2020 onwards, recognising them as legally accepted.
Where a Will is witnessed via video, there are certain requirements which must be met including:
- Seeing the head and shoulders of the witnesses via video call will not deem the witnessing as legal, the actual signatures should be observed.
- Electronic signatures will not suffice.
- The video call should be recorded.
- At least two capable witnesses will still be required.
- The sound and video quality must be sufficient so that participants can see and hear one another clearly.
The reformed ‘Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications)(Amendment)(Coronavirus) Order 2020’ now expresses that “presence includes presence by means of video conference or other visual transmission”. The Statutory Instrument will remain in force until 31st January 2022; however, it will remain under review and it will be either shortened or extended where appropriate.
Under normal circumstances, for a Will to be deemed legally recognised, two witnesses must be physically present. In recent months, this has been impossible for many people due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The introduction of this Statutory Instrument aims to make the process of making a Will easier in light of social distancing, self-isolation, and safeguarding measures to ensure that people’s last wishes can still be accounted for.
It should be noted that the new reform will not apply to Wills where a Grant of Probate has already been issued or where an application for Probate is in progress.
At Hodgkinsons Solicitors we can help you to put your affairs in order, albeit remotely. Thankfully, due to our investment in technology, we are able to work remotely seamlessly. Our Team have the equipment to allow them to communicate with you via telephone calls, video conferencing and email correspondence. They will advise you on the best way to achieve your desired outcome and help you to do so whilst abiding by the new legal implications. Your Lawyer will explain to you what you need to do, the obligations which must be met and can help you through the process to ensure that these are achieved. It should be noted that where the conventional method of witnessing a Will is able to take place it should do so whilst abiding by social distancing rules, and where it is impossible to do so, witnessing a Will should take place digitally.
Are you looking to put your affairs in order? Perhaps you want to update your Will, or write your first Will? If so, our Team of Wills & Probate Lawyers can help you. Our Wills & Probate Lawyers have an exceptional reputation for helping Clients located throughout the East Midlands, rural Lincolnshire and beyond including Skegness, Boston, Louth, Lincoln, and Grimsby. To get in touch call Hodgkinsons Solicitors, Skegness, on 01754 897150 or submit a contact form now.