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Signing your Will during lockdown



Introduction

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a sharp increase in the number of people wanting Wills. At the same time, lockdown and social distancing restrictions introduced to fight the pandemic have caused significant difficulty with the execution of Wills, where two independent witnesses are required.

And so, with the country now in a second lockdown, it`s worth remembering that recent legislation has been introduced, designed to allow Wills to be witnessed by virtual means.

The change in law

The Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications) (Amendments)(Coronavirus) Order 2020 was introduced in September 2020 and enables individuals to video-witness the execution of their Wills if they`re unable to observe the normal formalities. This legislation only applies in England and Wales but extends to any Wills executed between 31 January 2020 and 31 January 2022.

Proceed with caution

Although a significant development in the law, it is recommended that this new remote method of witnessing should not be overly relied upon and instead only used in extreme cases, where physical witnessing is impossible. This is because the approach does run a greater risk of the Will later being successfully challenged or held to be invalid on the grounds of undue influence or lack of capacity.

It is therefore strongly advised that anyone looking to execute their Will using video-witnessing should seek independent legal advice before proceeding.

Next steps

Accordingly, if you`re considering making a Will or were hoping to do so using video-witnessing, please feel free to contact us to discuss your options and ensure this is completed correctly.


Article Date: 13/11/2020

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