Video-witnessed wills to be made legal during coronavirus

The Ministry of Justice has announced a significant change to the rules that dictate how Wills and codicils are made in England and Wales, prompted by the practical difficulties of following these rules during the COVID-19 pandemic for those who are isolating or shielding.

On 25 July 2020 the government announced a temporary amendment to the rules on the witnessing of wills in England and Wales. This will allow them to be witnessed via video-link rather than in the physical presence of two independent witnesses as required by the Wills Act 1837.

What do the temporary changes to will-witnessing mean?

These changes mean that those who are isolating or shielding who cannot meet the usual requirements are able to make valid wills while also observing social distancing. Strict procedures must be followed to ensure that the process is not abused and it is important to remember that video-witnessing should only be used as a last resort.

The legislation will apply to wills made since 31 January 2020 and will remain in place for up to two years i.e. to 31 January 2022 unless extended. The advice remains however that where people can make wills in the conventional way they should continue to do so.

If you would like to make or amend your will then please get in touch with our will-writing team. It is particularly important to do so if you have had a change of circumstances such as the birth of a child or a marriage or divorce.

CONTACT CATHERINE

If you would like more information or advice relating to this article or any Wills, Trusts or Probate matter, please do not hesitate to contact Catherine Robson on 01727 798026.

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Every care is taken in the preparation of our articles. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in them alone. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.