Let’s ‘Zoom’ into the Future of Will Writing: Witnessing via Video Call

The Coronavirus Pandemic has sped up what was likely an inevitable development in the process of writing a Will. Witnessing via Video Call.

Given the health climate of the past year, many people have decided to have a Will written. Yet the process has been made somewhat precarious by social distancing/lockdown laws. Furthermore, many people wanting to have a Will written are considered to be high-risk, and thus have been left in a difficult position by not being able to write without the need for face-to-face appointments.

Just over 2 months ago, the Ministry of Justice announced the planned legalisation of remote witnessing Wills “as long as the quality of the sound and video is sufficient to see and hear what is happening at the time”.  The Wills Act 1837 will be altered so that the “presence” of those making and witnessing Wills includes virtual presence, via video-link.

With the new rule, comes new guidelines (sorry to use the g-word). Wills witnessed via video-call must comply with the following:

  1. The two witnesses must each have a clear line of sight of the writing of the signature.
  2. It has to happen in real time.
  3. The execution clause should be changed to note that witnessing is being provided remotely.
  4. The process should be recorded.

Amongst other companies, Life Law. have began to utilise this where necessary, thus highlighting how the future is very much here.

It is worth noting that this alteration is intended for now to be temporary, but depending on its effectiveness, we could be witnessing a ground-breaking change in the Will writing field. Having a Will written is incredibly important, and this change in legislation could benefit a significant amount of people.