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Witnessing Wills online
Since the pandemic and subsequent lockdown in March 2020 the demand by individuals wanting to create a Will increased and solicitors have been challenged with finding new ways to ensure that Wills are witnessed and executed correctly in line with social distancing requirements.
Recently, the Ministry of Justice confirmed that they will allow for Wills to be witnessed remotely for the next 2 years. The new rules also apply to any wills witnessed in this way since January 2020. The testator along with the two witnesses must all be present on a video call and the witnesses must be able to see the testator signing the will. Once signed the testator will send the will to the witnesses as soon as possible, and the process will be repeated, again via a video call.
Development has been cautiously welcomed by The Law Society. A benefit of the use of video witnessing is that solicitors can ensure that the will is being executed as required by law even when witnesses cannot be physically present with the testator.
A significant drawback of this method of will signing is that it will only be valid once the testator and both witnesses have signed – during the time that it takes for the will to reach both witnesses and video call to be arranged the testator may die and the validity of the Will would be in doubt.
Accordingly the use of video witnessing should still remain as a last resort. Our expert solicitors at Johnson Astills, have found alternative ways to sign and witness wills whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines. Our preferred method during the good weather has been to see clients at home for garden will signings. When this has not been possible we have arranged signings where the client remains inside their house and the witnesses from Johnson Astills remain outside – this is entirely appropriate as long as everyone has a clear line of vision of each other.
At Johnson Astills, our garden will singings have proved very effective and popular with clients. After conducting your initial meeting with one of our solicitors via a video appointment our solicitors can draft your Will. Once drafted, we will arrange a further video appointment to answer any questions and approve the final document. An appointment method suitable to the client is then arranged for signing.
We are happy to arrange appointments at one of our offices, subject to social distancing guidelines, if client’s prefer.
Here at Johnson Astills we have specialist solicitors who can advise you in relation to preparing your Will. Johnson Astills are experts in Wills & Probate and if you would like to speak to a solicitor in the department please call us on 0116 255 4855 or 01509 610312.