Can I get a witness? Witnessing Wills by video link to be valid until January 2022

The on-going pandemic has created numerous issues in our lives, including the execution of Wills when independent witnesses are less likely to be able to share the same space.

The law states that a Will must be made in the presence of at least two witnesses who must then sign the document as well. Social distancing has made this difficult and even impossible in certain conditions, for example if the Will maker resides in a care home.

In order to tackle this problem, temporary legislation effective from September 2020 will allow the witnessing of the signing of a Will by video link. The legislation is retrospective from 31 January 2020 and will be in force for 2 years until 31 January 2022.

Now, if one or both witnesses cannot be present when the Will maker is signing his/her Will, then a video link will be feasible so long as:-

  1. The Will maker and the witnesses have a clear line of sight of each other;
  2. Both witnesses can see the Will maker signing the Will and dating it; and
  3. The Will maker can see each witness signing the Will.

However, this approach is not without its pitfalls. There is no case law on this method of witnessing Wills. Technology is also known to fail at the most inappropriate time! Video links could lead to complications with the validity of the Will and therefore we advise extreme caution with using it for witnessing a Will. It should only be done with the advice and assistance of a qualified solicitor.

If you would like more information on video witnessing or on Wills in general, please feel free to contact the Private Client Department.

-Eoin Longworth

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