Currently, the law states that a will must be made ‘in the presence of’ at least two witnesses. However while isolating or shielding some people have understandably turned to video link software as a solution – for example via platforms such as Zoom or FaceTime.
On the 25th July 2020, Ministers acted to reassure the public that wills witnessed in such a way will be deemed legal, as long as the quality of the sound and video is sufficient to see and hear what is happening at the time.
The legislation will be backdated to apply to wills made since 31 January 2020 and is expected to remain in force until 31 January 2022, although the period may be shortened or extended if deemed necessary.
The proposed legislation will vary the requirement of “presence” for the purposes of section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 (WA 1837) to allow “presence” for those witnessing a will to include virtual presence via video link as an alternative to physical presence. The standard formalities for executing a will under section 9 of the WA 1837 will otherwise remain in force.
The MoJ has published a guide on the measures which can be viewed here. The Government has said however that this will not be made permanent and is purely to help ease issues arising due to COVID-19.
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