Owen Kenny Solicitors have been busy helping clients to get their Wills made or updated and signed validly during the COVID-19 lockdown period. To help with this situation, the Government has announced that it will introduce temporary legislation in September 2020 to permit remote witnessing of Wills. This is the only change it will make to the existing rules, and it will last for two years. The new legislation will be backdated to 31 January 2020, except where a grant of probate has already been issued or applied for where someone has died recently and will last for two years. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has issued guidelines which are available on this link (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-on-making-wills-using-video-conferencing). The draft legislation is not yet available, and there is no guarantee that the expected legislation will be introduced, nor that by the time it is granted Royal Assent it will be as proposed by the MoJ. The provisions must be followed very carefully and they rely on available technology which may not always be practical, nor wise for the most vulnerable. We would advise extreme caution if you plan to witness a Will remotely via video using the proposed new rules – particularly until we have the legislation – and if this is the only way a Will can be witnessed at present, we would strongly recommend signing and witnessing the Will again as soon as possible in the conventional way.

Given the risks involved, we would also recommend that the witnesses are the professionals who drew up the Will. Our Private Client team at Owen Kenny will be glad to advise. We would however still recommend that, unless absolutely impossible, Wills are signed and witnessed in the tried and tested way with witnesses physically present.

Contact our Private Client team on info@owenkenny.co.uk<mailto:info@owenkenny.co.uk> or call us on 01243 532777.

Another link which may be of interest:

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/contact-or-visit-us/press-office/press-releases/remote-witnessing-for-wills-to-become-law