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Expert Advise To Video Witnessing of Wills | HK News

Expert advice to video witnessing of Wills

| Published on August 10, 2020

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, new measures are to be put in place in England and Wales for the video witnessing of Wills to be legalized, making it easier for people to record their final wishes at this very difficult time.

What is the current process and how will this change?

Currently, a Will must be made ‘in the presence of’ at least two witnesses. Under the new rules, Wills witnessed via video meeting, for example via platforms such as Zoom or FaceTime, will be deemed legal so long as the quality of both the sound and video are sufficient to see and hear what is happening at the time. Pre-recorded videos will not be acceptable.

When will the changes take place?

These changes will be made via new legislation in September 2020 and will retrospectively apply to Wills made since 31 January 2020. There are some limited exceptions where the new rules will not apply retrospectively.

Given that the legislation is to assist those making a Will during the Coronavirus pandemic these changes will only remain in place until 31 January 2022. After which Wills must return to being made with witnesses who are physically present when the Will is signed. However, as with the approach adopted for other Coronavirus measures, the changes may be shortened or extended if deemed necessary.

The advice remains that where it is safe and possible for people to sign Wills in the conventional way they should continue to do so with the use of video technology being a last resort. The new rules will apply to both Codicils and Wills but when signing you must still satisfy the same witnessing rules that are involved in the making of a Will currently.

Why is the change necessary?

Crucially, the new rules maintain the vital safeguard of requiring two independent witnesses, who are not beneficiaries within the Will, and electronic signatures will not be allowed. Whilst the new rules will be a welcome step in assisting those who might be shielding or self-isolating there are additional formalities which must also be followed for the creation of a valid Will in this way. It is important to note that there will be a period time between the signing of a Will by the testator and the signing by the witnesses were the Will is not valid.

It is advisable that professional advice be sought with regard to the preparation of your will as it is still extremely important to follow the legalities of making a valid will in order to make sure that the wishes contained in your will are upheld following your death.

How our team can help

Humphries Kirk has a dedicated team of specialist lawyers who are able to assist with the preparation and signing of your Will. We can also assist in advising on more complex arrangements such as tax planning and asset protection.

Humphries Kirk remains open, and we can provide advice and assistance via face-to-face meetings or telephone and videoconferencing facilities such as Skype, WhatsApp and Zoom. Learn about the measures we have taken to keep out staff and customers safe.

If you would like more information about making a Will then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Author: Kelly Miller, Associate Solicitor, Wareham Office Tel: 01929 552141

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