From 28 September 2020, a temporary amendment to the Wills Act 1837 will come into force allowing wills in England and Wales to be witnessed remotely by ‘videoconference or other visual transmission’.

The temporary change in law has been introduced by Statutory Instrument 2020/952 and applies where a will is made between 31 January 2020 and 31 January 2022, but does not affect any grant of probate or anything done pursuant to a grant of probate before 28 September 2020.

Currently, section 9 of the Act specifies that a will must be signed by the testator (the person making the will) in the presence of at least two witnesses present at the same time. Covid-19 restrictions introduced by the government have made it impossible for this requirement to be met where they prevent a witness from being physically present before the testator (e.g. due to self-isolation or shielding) at the time of signing.   

The Statutory Instrument does not authorise any other forms of remote validation such as the use of electronic signatures or signing of a will on behalf of the testator.


IHT: Estate planning checklist
This checklist covers some of the essential planning points that taxpayers should know when planning for their estate and inheritance tax.

External link

Statutory Instrument 2020/952: 
The Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Order 2020


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