Wills can continue to be witnessed via Zoom until 2024
As of 12 Jan 2022, wills can continue to be witnessed via Zoom in England and Wales. This will help people who are isolating either with covid or if they are vulnerable and have to stay at home to avoid social contact.
After writing a will, you need to sign it alongside two witnesses to make it legally binding. First, you should sign your will with both witnesses watching, then each witness should add their signature alongside details like their name, address and occupation.
This is so that, if your will is contested in the future, your witnesses can testify that they watched you sign your will. To read more about who can witness and sign a will, you can find our guide on it here.
The pandemic saw lots of people having to have their wills witnessed over Zoom, because of social distancing and ‘stay home’ measures in place.
As of 12 Jan 2022, wills can continue to be witnessed via Zoom in England and Wales
This will help people who are isolating either with covid or if they are vulnerable and have to stay at home to avoid social contact. The extension is set to last until Jan 31 2024, however the Law Commission is considering whether to make these changes permanent (as well as other changes to the current laws around wills).
Over the last couple of years, lawyers have been working hard to ensure that their clients have been able to make valid wills, in spite of the pandemic restrictions. According to Law Society Research around one in seven legal professionals who had been involved in making a will since the initial changes in 2020, had used tech like Zoom or FaceTime for witnessing wills. Up until the pandemic, witnesses had to be physically present to sign a will.
As Law Society of England and Wales president, Stephanie Boyce said “Those who have used video witnessing have told the Law Society it has been a useful option to have: to help vulnerable people set their affairs in order when making a will in the physical presence of witnesses is not possible”.
Welcoming the announcement, our CEO, Dan, said “The extension of witnessing wills virtually via zoom means that writing a will is far more accessible to people who aren’t able to make close contact with anyone else. It helps vulnerable people manage their end of life planning and gives people isolating more peace-of-mind that they can get their affairs in order. Our mission at Farewill is to make writing a will simpler and more manageable for everyone - this extension is a step in that direction”.
Don’t forget, there are still some of the same remaining rules in place
It’s important to remember that even with these changes two witnesses are required to witness a will online. This is to protect people against undue influence and fraud. The virtual witnessing is also only recognised if the quality of the sound and video is good enough to see and hear what’s happening.
The same rules remain in terms of who can witness a will. Beneficiaries are not allowed to witness a will and electronic signatures aren’t accepted either. To read more about who can and can’t witness your will (and if you’d like to know more about what a beneficiary is), you can find our complete guide on it here.
Wills witnessed through windows are already considered legitimate in case law, provided they have clear sight of the person signing it.
Our online will writing service is designed to make writing a will quick, simple and stress-free. If you’re looking to get started, here’s how to get started today.