As of 28th September 2020, new legislation will be in place which will allow people to legally witness Wills via video link. The legislation will be backdated to January 31st 2020, making any video-witnessed Will after this date legal and valid.

The decision has been made due to the challenges those shielding or self-isolating have been having getting their Wills physically witnessed by two people. Frequently, a video link has proved the only viable option to ensure the safety of everyone involved in signing and witnessing a Will. Commenting on the legislation, Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor, Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP, has said:

“Our measures will give peace of mind to many that their last wishes can still be recorded during this challenging time, while continuing to protect the elderly and vulnerable.”

How the process will work

In practice, the witness must have a ‘clear line of sight’ of the Will-maker signing the Will. If self-isolation and social distancing prevent a witness from being physically in the same room as the Will-maker, video-witnessed Wills can be used as an alternative as long as the witness has a clear line of sight of the Will being signed. There are also other socially distanced methods of witnessing a Will that can be used, including:

    • Witnessing through a window or open door of a house or a vehicle
    • Witnessing from a corridor or adjacent room into a room with the door open
    • Witnessing outdoors from a short distance, for example in a garden

“The type of video-conferencing or device used is not important, as long as the person making the will and their two witnesses each have a clear line of sight of the writing of the signature.”

Pre-recorded videos cannot be used. The video link must be in real time for the Will to be rendered legal and valid. It is, however, recommended that the process of video-signing and witnessing is recorded and the recording retained if possible.