Ministry of Justice set to announce legalisation of virtually witnessed Wills

News Article

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is set to announce the legalisation of Wills witnessed via video calls, through video platforms such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams.

It is believed that individuals will be able to use the video platforms to sign their wills in the virtual presence of two witnesses, in what will represent a significant change to the Wills Act of 1837.

Tim Steele, a Partner with Palmers who specialises in Wills and Probate matters, said: “The law currently stipulates that witnesses must be physically present to witness the signature of a Will, but the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown and social distancing measures have made this impossible for many.

“This move is welcome news as it will mean that many people who wish to make a Will can do so without the need to meet face to face.”

It is believed the update will come in the form of an amendment to the Electronic Communications Act of 2000, allowing the use of video links for Wills, which is expected to be made retrospective to 31 January 2020, two days after the first COVID-19 cases in the UK.

Some experts were concerned that there could be an increase in the number of contentious probate cases relating to Wills created or updated during lockdown, but it is now believed that this amendment will help to alleviate these concerns.

A Government spokesperson said “We will take concrete steps very shortly to deal with issues of wills that have been witnessed remotely during the pandemic.

“In recognition of the unique situation, we hope this will alleviate concerns over the validity of wills.”

For help and advice on matters relating to Wills and estate planning, contact our expert team.

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