Government extends use of video-witnessed wills until 2024
The government is to allow vulnerable people to continue to be able to have their wills witnessed via video-link until 2024.
The move extends measures brought in because of the pandemic.
It’s designed to help people who are forced to isolate either with Covid or from another vulnerability.
Ministers hope it will reassure all those who need to use this provision that their final wishes are legally recognised as witnesses previously had to be physically present.
To protect people against undue influence and fraud, two witnesses are still required, and virtual witnessing is only recognised if the quality of the sound and video is sufficient to see and hear what is happening.
The extension will last until 31 January 2024 while the Law Commission considers potential reforms to the law around wills, including whether to make these changes permanent.
The government says the use of video technology should remain a last resort and people must continue to arrange physical witnessing of wills where it is safe to do so. Wills witnessed through windows are already considered legitimate in case law provided they have clear sight of the person signing it.
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “Solicitors have bent over backwards to ensure their clients have been able to make valid wills despite the restrictions during the pandemic.
“Those who have used video witnessing have told the Law Society it has been a useful option to have: to help vulnerable people set their affairs in order when making a will in the physical presence of witnesses is not possible.
“The Law Society continues to take the view that the most effective reform of the law would be to give judges powers to recognise the deceased’s intentions even where their will may not have been witnessed, in line with the Wills Act.
“We look forward to the forthcoming Law Commission report on wills reform which we hope will expand on this and other issues to improve will making in England and Wales.”
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