Update: Signing wills by video link

29 July 2020

The government will shortly put in place legislation for signing wills by video link. This will be backdated to 31 January 2020 and remain in place until 31 January 2022. They have declared that wills witnessed in such a way will be deemed legal as long as the quality of the sound and video link is sufficient to see and hear what is happening at the time.  

They have stipulated that using video links to sign wills must be used as a last resort only.

No electronic signatures are allowed.  

Wills are not allowed to be signed in counterparts so the will maker cannot sign one copy and the two witnesses separate copies of the will. The will has to be physically circulated between the signatories and until everyone has signed the will it will not be legally validated.

Guidance has been given on how such video calls should be run but the main point to note is that everyone involved should ensure that they can see the actions of all of the others and hear each other clearly. 
There will need to be more than one video call. The first one should be for the witnesses to see the will maker sign the will. Then there will be one or two more calls, depending on whether the witnesses live together, where the will maker (and the other witness if appropriate) should see the witness sign the will.

If a witness is asked to witness a will in a case where they do not know the will maker they should ask to see confirmation of the testator's identity e.g. their passport or driving licence.

There is a recommendation that the calls should be recorded.

As with all will signing, the procedure must be followed properly otherwise the will may not be valid, so if signing a will by video link is necessary we would recommend that legal advice is taken on how to proceed.

Watch our video interview with Rupert Wilkinson, Partner in our Private Client Team here.

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