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Remote witnessing of wills

There has been much debate since COVID and social distancing about whether wills could be executed remotely. The issue has surrounded the understanding of the word “presence” and could it encompass remote video presence as well as physical presence? When initially put to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) remote presence was rejected in England and Wales “because it was open to abuse”.

However the rules have now been relaxed to allow “remote presence” and the main points are as follows:

  • backdated to 31 January 2020
  • will last until 31 January 2022 or until necessary
  • applies to both wills and codicils
  • MoJ authorised as a last resort for emergencies only
  • where possible arrange for witnesses to be physically present
  • execution should be recorded and that sound and video sufficient to see and hear what is happening
  • signatures must be wet
  • witnesses must see testator sign and not just a pre recorded video

While the government retains the power to reduce or extend the deadline for this amendment to the Wills Act 1837, the current deadline for remote attestation has been set as 31 January 2022, after which only “physical presence” will be permitted.

We strongly recommend you speak to your Solicitor regarding this to discuss further. We are happy to recommend one of our professional connections to advice in this area should you wish.


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