Individuals in England and Wales will be able to have their Wills witnessed remotely until 31 January 2024, extending measures brought in during the pandemic (read original update here) to assist those who are unable to have their Wills witnessed in person due to factors such as isolating, shielding or from other vulnerabilities.
Video technology, such as Teams, Zoom and Skype, has been no stranger to individuals over the coronavirus pandemic and the recent extension to the law will give vulnerable individuals peace of mind that their Wills are going to be recognised by the law.
The Wills Act 1837, which has stood the test of time for good reason, sets out the requirements for making and witnessing a Will. In so far as witnessing is concerned, the Act states that a Will must be signed “in the presence” of at least two witnesses. However, the recent extension to the law now means that a witnesses’ presence can be either physical or virtual.
The extension will also help maintain the important safeguarding requirements of requiring two witnesses in protecting individuals against undue influence and fraud.
It is important to bear in mind, however, that the use of video technology should be a last resort and where possible the witnessing of Wills should take place in person provided it is safe to do so.
Although a Will can be witnessed remotely, it is still not possible for the document to be signed electronically and a physical wet signature is still required.
At Hay & Kilner, our team of expert advisers have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to meet the needs of those wishing to make Wills and enter into Lasting Powers of Attorney, and to assist those who have been bereaved during this difficult time.
If you require any assistance in these matters please contact a member of the team or call on 0191 232 8345 for a free no obligation initial conversation to see how we can help.