07 Jun 2021

Where there’s a will, there’s a way…to get it done even with COVID-19

Writing a will and getting the necessary signatures in place has always been quite a formal affair. With the onset of the pandemic more people than ever were incentivised to make or update their wills, but with lockdown restrictions in place, having witnesses see you sign and complete the legality required posed a big problem

As such, after much deliberation, the Government has recently confirmed that it will pass legislation which allows wills to be witnessed via video conferencing technology, and that this legislation will be backdated to cover any wills witnessed in this way since January 2020, and it is proposed to extend this until 31st January 2022.

However, there are concerns; Will the witness actually be able to see the document being signed, as this relies on the ‘camera angle’, what if the internet connection is troubled during the signing, and usually the person writing the will and the witness sign the same physical document at the same time. Of course, this can’t be done via video, so it’s expected that the document is sent from one party to the other within 24 hours, which in itself would need a ‘trip out’ either to the post box (in which case it will likely not arrive in time!), or to the other persons residence.

There are also fears that in future, challengers to wills may use this as a reason to cite the wills invalidity.

Personally, I expect that this move to ‘digitisation’ of certain practices will be a move forward and ultimately help a lot of people.