The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced that it has temporarily legalised the witnessing of wills by video, in an update to legislation that is over 150 years old.
The amendment recognises the challenges presented by the Coronavirus crisis of witnessing wills in person due to social distancing requirements.
Dispensation has been given to enable us to witness your will in a socially distanced way by
- Witnessing the will through a window or an open door of a building or a vehicle,
- Witnessing the will from a corridor or an adjacent room with the door open,
- Witnessing the will outdoors from a short distance ie. the garden.
However in cases where it is impossible to witness the Will in person, this temporary measure will enable the witnessing by video
Commenting on the change, The Institute of Professional Willwriters, the membership body for wills and probate practitioners, has said
“We had been corresponding with MoJ between April and June regarding this matter and pushing for the government to relax the regulations. And whilst they indicated that the government had no plans to make any changes we are of course delighted that this change has been considered to be appropriate in all the circumstances, It will allow more testamentary freedom for clients and ensure that they are able to create effective Wills whilst in isolation or quarantine that will be recognised in law if witnessed via video conferencing.”
We must stress however that the guidance is clear that the preferred method of will witnessing continues to be in person and where possible this should be adopted.
And even in cases where wills have been witnessed via video, we urge the re-signing be completed in person as soon as is feasibly possible.
The amendment will remain in place as long as it is deemed necessary, provisionally until 31 January 2022.
We continue to offer telephone and video consultations as well as some home consultations provided a Covid-secure environment can be facilitated.
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