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Making a Will enters 21st Century as Video calls is Legally recognised

View profile for Joanne Jones
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If you are making a Will it can now be witnessed via video link which should help to speed up the system and provide reassurance in these uncertain times.

The recent change to the existing 183 year old law has been brought in this September to reflect the current changing situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the difficulties of lockdown, social distancing and shielding.

As a result of coronavirus many people have wanted to get a Will done quickly and efficiently but the old Victorian system has always stated that two witnesses are needed to be physically present to conform to The Wills Act 1837.  This has been obviously difficult during recent times.

Now Wills can be legally witnessed via video link, on Zoom and in Skype calls, in changes announced by the Ministry of Justice to be in place for at least 2 years.

The Electronic Communications Act 2000 amendments have also backdated to provide retrospective cover from the end of January 2020 and early Covid arrangements.

For a Will to be legally valid, you must:

  • Be 18 or over
  • Make it voluntarily and not be pressurised
  • Be of sound mind
  • Make it in writing
  • Sign it in the presence of two witnesses who are both over 18
  • Have it signed by your two witnesses, in your presence
  • You cannot leave your witnesses (or their married partners) anything in your Will

“The recent pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone and it has created so much uncertainty and worry amongst our clients, many of whom have been anxious to make sure their Wills are up to date and would carry out their most recent wishes, or even those clients who have put it off for whatever reason and have come to us in in a panic wanting a Will done asap,” said Head of Private Client, Joanne Jones.

“Covid-19 has been a period of great change and this legal amendment means we are better able to harness tech for our appointments with clients and give them peace of mind that their last wishes can be recorded.  If nothing else the pandemic has taught us the basic centrality of family, partners, home and health and to get our affairs in order.”

“I do however feel that although there are circumstances when virtual signings are useful our obligation as solicitors is to ensure validity and I therefore will always try to meet my clients in person and arrange a physical signing wherever possible,” added Joanne.

The Government has also stated that use of video technology should remain a last resort and people must continue to arrange physical witnessing of Wills when safe to do so.

For help and advice on making your Will, or making changes to your existing Will to reflect a change in circumstances why not call one of our team for a friendly chat 0161 785 3500 or email joanne.jones@pearsonlegal.co.uk

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.