Under the Wills Act 1837, when someone makes and signs their will two additional people need to be physically present to act and sign as ‘witnesses’ to the will. This is to protect the person making the will (the testator) from potential fraud or coercion.
Unfortunately, the current pandemic and government imposed social-distancing rules have posed practical difficulties for the signing and witnessing of wills in recent months. In some cases, signatures have been witnessed through windows and wills have been signed on car bonnets. These physical challenges have put some people off making a will altogether. To overcome these practical issues for its clients, Parnalls created a mobile will signing team which offers will signing and witnessing in clients’ gardens. It has also put in place an outdoor client meeting room at its offices.
However, making a will during these times of social distancing has now been made much easier.
Following government reforms, the signing of wills can now be witnessed through video conferencing facilities, such as FaceTime, Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams. This technology enables wills to be validly executed when the testator and the witnesses are in different locations, so long as the video link provides for clear video and audio. The reforms have been backdated to the 31st January 2020, validating all wills signed in accordance with the new rules from that date, and will remain in place for 2 years – although this period of time can be curtailed or extended should it prove necessary.
At Parnalls, we remain up to date with all changes in the law and have the facilities to assist you with execution of your will through whatever means you choose. Whether it be through our video-conferencing capabilities, our remote will signing team, or even if you would rather attend our offices, in outdoor or indoor meeting rooms, we would be happy to accommodate you.
For more information, please contact the head of our private client department, Deborah Adams, on 01566 772 375 or at AdamsD@Parnalls.com.