Are you are keeping up with the rules around Covid? They are ever changing and that means that we are now all used to adapting to fit in with them – for parties, clubs, social gatherings, medical appointments and at school and work.
However, as the guidelines continue to change over the next months, what does seem likely is that there will still be a need for us to isolate at times, either because we have tested positive for Covid, or we are particularly vulnerable for another reason.
Towards the start of the pandemic, the law around witnessing Wills was temporarily relaxed so that anyone wanting to make a Will but who had to isolate could have their Will witnessed virtually.
Usually, witnesses need to be physically present when a Will is signed for the Will to be valid. On 11th January 2022 it was confirmed that “virtual witnessing” will continue until 31st January 2024 so that those isolating can still make a Will, witnessed via video-link, and know that their final wishes will be legally recognised.
Emily Deane at the Society for Estate and Trust Practitioners said of the extension “We welcome this announcement because it gives clarity to everyone involved in the process of witnessing Wills. While we agree that video technology should remain a last resort, it is vital that anyone who is required to isolate can arrange their Will and has peace of mind that it is legally valid”.
Virtual witnessing of Wills might not seem particularly ground-breaking, but it was a significant departure from the law around how Wills are signed and witnessed, which has not altered much in two hundred years! While it is a temporary measure, there is an ongoing – and much delayed – project by the Law Commission to completely review the law on Wills so there may be further changes afoot to bring Wills firmly into the 21st century.
At Wolferstans, we are finding that many people want to see us again face to face for appointments and we can offer that in our offices with meeting rooms carefully set up to accommodate social distancing in comfort. We also continue to see clients in their own homes, care homes and in hospital whenever we can.
However, for clients who prefer, we can meet via video link and over the telephone, and, although we usually sign Wills with clients in person, we are pleased with extension to the relaxation of the witnessing of Wills for the peace of mind it brings to clients who need to isolate.