Guidance On The Legalisation Of Video Will Witnessing

Following the announcement that the Ministry of Justice has moved to legalise wills witnessed by video leading industry figures have warned of important nuances that practitioners need to be aware of to ensure their processes are legal.

Writing on LinkedIn this morning, Chair of The Law Society Wills & Equity Committee and Head Of Trusts & Estates at Talbots Law Ian Bond warns that practitioner’s processes must be in line with the guidance provided.

“A lot of hard work from very dedicated people to make this modest change but still protect elderly and vulnerable clients. It is detailed and has retrospective effect but not all video witnessed wills that have been made may be valid. I have seen some firms posting on LinkedIn of their method that will not be valid under these proposals. Further guidance will come from Law Society, but main takeaway is if you can follow the current processes to make a valid will then do so. Make good and detailed file notes if using video conference technology to make wills with clients and record everything.”

Emily Deane, Technical Counsel at STEP also urges caution when considering the use of video witnessing.

“We are delighted that the Government has today removed the need for physical witnesses however video links should not be considered a substitute for witnessing via the conventional method. They are for use in an emergency when conventional witnessing is impossible and extreme caution is required when taking this course of action.”

Practitioners hoping for a permanent change will be disappointed for now as the guidance so far indicates that the measures are temporary until 2022 with the Ministry of Justice guidance stating; “when the new law ceases to be in force, people will only be able to make new legal wills using the normal methods.”

Both the Ministry of Justice and STEP have provided guidance on how to conduct video witnessed wills

Ministry of Justice: Guidance on making wills using video-conferencing

STEP Briefing Note: Execution of wills using video witnessing (E&W)

Today’s Wills & Probate will continue to report on this breaking story and provide further updates as they are released.

1 Comment

  • test

    Ian Bond of the Law Society flags a very important point – that to be validly video-witnessed the will, or codicil, must be signed and witnessed in accordance with the proposed change to the law.
    Over the weekend, various publications stated that any will signed or witnessed via video since 31 January 2020 is valid. This is clearly not the case and those who have made, or advised upon the making of, a will using video technology will need to review such wills to see whether or not they comply with the requirements and, if not, new valid wills made.

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