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Legal News | 4.02.21

Caution to be taken regarding Wills witnessed via video link

If you are a regular reader of our email updates, you will be aware that in 2020, in response to the difficulties that Covid-19 restrictions present for the Will signing process, the Government amended the Wills Act 1837 (click here to read our previous update on the topic). The result of this amendment is that Wills signed between 31 January 2020 and 31 January 2022 can now be validly witnessed via video link, without the need for two witnesses to be physically present, as had previously been the case.

While this might seem like a simple solution to social-distancing and lockdown restrictions, the decision to step away from the norm of having two witnesses physically present with you when you sign your Will should not be taken lightly.

Instead, it should be seen as a last resort to be used where the testator is, for example in hospital or shielding, or where there is extreme urgency to the signing of the Will.

If a Will is to be witnessed via video link, care must be taken to ensure that the validity of the Will is not inadvertently affected. Potential problems include:

• Incorrect dating of the Will: as the Will must be passed between three different parties (testator and two witnesses), it can be confusing as to which date should be used for the signing of the Will. It should be the date on which the testator signs. If the Will is dated incorrectly then this can lead to potential issues.

• Independent witnesses: the witnesses to your Will must not be related to you. They must not be a beneficiary of the Will nor the spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary and they should be over the age of 18.

• Confusion regarding signatures: even though the Will is being witnessed via video link, a wet signature rather than an electronic one is still required and all parties must sign the original Will.

• Timing of the witnessing: you must use a live video link for both signature and witnessing. The Will should ideally be signed by the witnesses within 24 hours of it being signed by the testator. Unless everyone has signed the Will it is not valid.

If it is necessary for a Will to be witnessed via video link, we at Wansbroughs have clear systems in place and so will be able to guide you through the process, ensuring that the Will is executed correctly.

For further information, please call us on 01380 733 300 or email us at wealth@wansbroughs.com.


Posted By Our Wills, Tax, Trusts & Probate Team