Common concerns on virtual Will witnessing
7th July 2021
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At the end of September 2020, an amendment to the Wills Act 1837 came into force which extended the word ‘presence’ to include digital presence, allowing Wills to be witnessed via video throughout the pandemic period.

Prior to COVID-19, Wills were created in an environment with strict controls in place and the preparation of a Will was done in a consistent manner in the presence of a Solicitor or Will Writer. The removal of this environment has brought concern about the potential for disputes to be raised about the process and ultimately, the validity of a Will. Here are a few common concerns:

  1. The amended law has been backdated to 31 January 2020, which covers several months when there was confusion about how to legally prepare a Will during lockdown (the law will remain in force until 31 January 2022).
  2. Most of us have experienced a faulty connection when using video technology. As a result, many are sceptical of having a consistent quality or connection during all remote witnessing procedures. If a connection is known to drop at any point, this can call the validity of the signatures into question.
  3. One critical component of preparing or changing a valid Will is that there is no undue influence by anyone else, which is something that can be monitored and controlled in a typical setting. When done on camera, it is difficult to see everyone who is truly present and any intimidating behaviour towards the Testator. This uncertainty could give rise to a claim that undue influence took place and that the Will is invalid.

Please get in touch if you have any questions about Will witnessing.


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