The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has confirmed that video witnessed wills in England and Wales will be made legal during the coronavirus pandemic. The change in law to introduce this measure is due to come into force later this month – the reforms will be backdated to 31 January 2020 – the date of the first confirmed coronavirus case in the UK.
This means that any will witnessed by video technology from that date onwards will be legally accepted. The change will remain in place until 31 January 2022, or as long as deemed necessary, after which wills must return to being made with witnesses who are physically present.
Currently, the law states that a will must be made ‘in the presence of’ at least two witnesses. The changes will amend the law to include video-witnessing.
The MoJ has stated that the use of video technology should remain a last resort, and people must continue to arrange physical witnessing of wills where it is safe to do so. Wills witnessed through windows are already considered legitimate in case law as long as they have clear sight of the person signing it.
Even with video witnessing, the wills still need to be signed by two witnesses who are not its beneficiaries and electronic signatures will not be permitted.