My colleagues Katie Turney and Caroline Miller have recently written for Today's Wills and Probate on the soon to be introduced temporary legislation allowing remote witnessing of Wills in the current pandemic.
With the legislation itself yet to be revealed, Katie and Caroline consider the anticipated requirements for remote witnessing based on the current government guidance and the very real risk of the new procedure being abused.
Does the legislation really serve those who need it most? Does the requirement for a "clear line of sight" to the testator signing really protect against fraud? Katie and Caroline have considered these issues and more.
Whilst many pitfalls can be avoided by testators seeking advice from an experienced practitioner who will be alive to issues such as fraud, undue influence, duress, capacity and identity theft; able to moderate and record the video-conference; ensure the testator has read and understood the terms of the will; and advise on the signature requirements, it seems likely that virtual witnessing will be more readily adopted by lay people unaware that the strict requirements of the Act have not been dispensed with. Whilst for many, virtual witnessing represents welcome modernisation, we would advise proceeding with caution: an increased number of disputes is clearly in our line of sight.