Are Wills Made At A Distance Legally Valid?
Posted on 7th July 2020
As our team of Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors in Preston have previously discussed, in the majority of cases, verbal Wills are not valid; you can read more about verbal Wills in our blog, here. In cases where a Will has not been witnessed correctly, this could also cause them to be invalid. Our local solicitors for Wills have explained how a Will should be signed and witnessed correctly to be valid, here.
With everything going on in the World at the moment, a common question that our Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors in Preston are asked is whether Wills witnessed over Skype/Facetime/Zoom/Other virtual video calling technology will be valid? Our team answer this common question below.
Can a Will be witnessed over video call?
Our team of local solicitors for Wills have previously discussed how Wills should be witnessed to be legally valid, and whether we could expect to see any changes to the law in light of COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. A recent ruling from the Ministry of Justice has confirmed: Wills that are witnessed remotely cannot currently be legally recognised as, under current laws, the two witnesses must be present with a ‘clear line of sight’ to the person signing the Will (also known as the Testator).
However, the silver lining for those who may have resorted to a zoom-call-video-witnessing during the pandemic is that the Ministry of Justice is expected to bring in a new law in September, retrospectively legalising any ‘video Wills’ (which still comply with rules about the number of witnesses required and how the Will should be witnessed) made after 31st January 2020.
There is no guidance as to whether this new law could apply going forward, or whether the rule would only apply for a specific period of time (i.e. whilst social distancing measures were in place), however, as always, our expert Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate solicitors in Preston will keep you updated as the MoJ releases any further guidance.
Should I ask my friends to witness my Will over Video call?
Even though it appears that Wills witnessed over video call may be ruled as valid, for the purposes of avoiding many contested Wills in the future, you should still contact your local solicitors for Wills to avoid your Will falling into the ‘invalid’ category. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and you should always have a legally qualified person draft your Will.
Until such time as any concrete guidance, rules or new laws are introduced, you should ensure that you contact an expert Wills Solicitor to prevent there being any issues with your Will in the future. Afterall, you would not have bothered going to the effort of making a new Will in the first place if you did not want it to be valid in the future.
The best way to deal with making a legally valid Will is to consult an expert Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors, and instruct them to draw up the document on your behalf. That way, the cost of signing and witnessing the Will should be included in the fees.
Our expert team of local solicitors for Wills offer fixed-fee Wills for just £140.00 plus VAT for a single Will, and £240.00 plus VAT for mirror Wills; this includes the costs of drafting the Will (or Wills), and attending upon you to arrange for signature of the Will, in the presence of two of our very own team members, who can act as your independent witnesses.
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