James Antoniou responds to new will legislation announced by Ministry of Justice

27 July 2020

This weekend the Ministry of Justice announced that video-witnessed wills are set to be made legal via new legislation in September, one of the most significant changes to the sector in almost 200 years.

The new measures, which will be backdated to 31st January 2020 and are only temporary for a period of 2 years, are a direct response to issues arising from Covid 19 whereby lockdown and social distancing have prevented many people from being able to validly sign their wills in accordance with the current strict legal rules that require a will to be signed by the will maker in the physical presence of two witnesses.

James Antoniou Head of Wills at Co-op Legal Services says:

“We welcome these changes from the MOJ in order to temporarily help people who may otherwise be unable to execute their wills due to COVID-19.

However, these proposals should also be approached with caution, as they will inevitably create a greater risk of uncertainty about whether a virtually witnessed will has, in fact, been executed properly.

This, in turn, means that there is also an increased possibility of wills made in this way being challenged in the future. It’s therefore vital that people putting wills in place take the right advice and ideally from a legal provider which is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.”

We would always advise that the following people should not be your witnesses: - Any person who may potentially benefit under the terms of your will i.e. the people you intend to inherit from your Estate - The husband/wife or registered civil partner of any potential beneficiary in your Will - Anyone under the age of 18 years of age - Anyone who is blind or partially sighted - Anyone who does not have sufficient mental capacity to understand what they are witnessing

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For further information contact: Maya Powell: maya.powell@coop.co.uk | 0777 309 6851