Video-witnessed wills: legal during pandemic
The Government is to legalise the remote witnessing of wills in England and Wales – making it easier for people to record their final wishes during the Coronavirus pandemic. Reforms will be backdated to 31 January 2020 and will remain in place as long as necessary.
New laws will be passed to reassure the public that wills witnessed via video link are legally recognised. Currently, the law states that a will must be made ‘in the presence of’ at least two witnesses. However, while isolating or shielding some people have understandably turned to video link software as a solution – for example via platforms such as Zoom or FaceTime.
Ministers have now acted to reassure the public that wills witnessed in such a way will be deemed legal, as long as the quality of the sound and video is sufficient to see and hear what is happening at the time. These changes will be made via new legislation in September, which amends the law to include video-witnessing. Crucially, the move maintains the vital safeguard of requiring two witnesses – protecting people against undue influence and fraud.