Wills can now be signed by remote witnesses

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Changes have been made to how you make a will due to the coronavirus pandemic in England and Wales, as the Wills Act passed through UK Parliament this week.

Video-witnessed wills will now be valid if they were made between 31 January 20 and 31 January 2022, or for as long or short a time as deemed necessary.

As per the normal requirements, the UK Government website says for a will to be valid, the person making it needs to be 18 and over, draw up the will voluntarily and be of sound mind. In addition, the will must be made in writing and signed in the presence of two witnesses who are both over 18.

Video conferencing witnesses

Because the pandemic and the lockdown made getting witnesses to sign wills tricky because of social distancing rules, the new requirement allows witnesses to sign remotely—i.e. by video conferencing.

The website says, “you must have a clear view of the person and the act of signing” and “the will maker (or person authorised to sign on their behalf) and witnesses must sign the same document”.

Any changes to the will require people to follow the same signing and witnessing process.

Surge in millennials writing wills

In other wills news, Yahoo Finance reports that the pandemic has spiked a surge in millennials writing wills. Journalist Abigail Fenton reports that the number of Brits writing wills in April 2020 was 12 times higher than it was pre-coronavirus in December 2019.

Will writer Farewill’s data also showed that an increasing number of young people were choosing to leave money to charity, with millennials leaving about £25,000 each as legacy gifts. Favoured charities include Macmillan, the British Heart Foundation, the Mental Health Foundation, Greenpeace and the Vegan Society.

In addition, millennials seem to place less value on expensive material items for loved ones, favouring instead sentimental belongings such as books or keepsakes they’ve picked up from travelling and experiences, such as hotel points or their air travel miles.

Finders International’s secure signatory and witnessing service can be used to obtain instructions or signatures, pick up or deliver items as required. Email us on [email protected]

 

Millennials are more likely to leave tech in their wills—laptops, tablets, iPhones, etc. Farewill said the trend was likely to have been caused by the “increased awareness of mortality” thanks to the pandemic.

The article quoted a 33-year-old who’d written her will in May. Laura Dixon said she had never considered making a will before, but the pandemic made her think ahead.

For more information about wills, visit the UK Government website: https://www.gov.uk/make-will