Witnessing will signatures via video link is now permitted in Jersey

To comply with the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) social distancing rules, Jersey is now permitting solicitors and advocates to witness the signing of wills via video link.

Video Link Signature Wills

Can you witness a will via video link in Jersey?

Yes. With will enquiries dramatically increasing and social distancing guidance still in place during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, Jersey is now permitting solicitors and advocates to witness the signing of a will via video link.

Witnessing can now be completed online by audio-video communication instead of in person. This will allow people in hospital and care homes, or those who are in isolation, to validly sign a new will, or change an existing will, without breaching social distancing rules.

Until now, legal professionals had been resorting to garden signings, window witnessing and ‘drive by’ signings. The legislation will now make it easier to make wills and obtain grants of probate while safely complying with government guidelines. The emergency legislation will operate temporarily until 30 September.

Can you witness a will via video link in Scotland?

Yes. The Law Society of Scotland has also temporarily amended its guidance on witnessing the signing of a will to allow the lawyer to act as the witness via video conference, so long as they are not appointed as ‘executor’ (the person who sorts out the ‘estate’ (money, property and possessions) of the person who's died) directly or through a trust company.

The lawyer will need to send the testator their will by post and provide details of the video conference. On the conference, the practitioner should ask the testator to show that there is no one else in the room (to ensure they are not under any undue influence) and that their will is currently unsigned. They should then ask the testator to sign each page and show them that each page has been signed.

As soon as is feasible, the will should then be returned to the practitioner who witnessed the signing and they should sign it and date it with the date that the testator signed the will.

Can you witness a will via video link in England and Wales?

Yes. The UK government has announced plans to change the law to allow wills to be witnessed virtually in England and Wales.

While isolating or shielding some people have turned to video link software, such as Zoom or FaceTime, to witness a will. Therefore, the government is legalising the remote witnessing of wills – making it easier for people to record their final wishes during the coronavirus pandemic.

These changes will be made via new legislation in September and reforms will be backdated to 31 January 2020. The changes aim to reassure the public that wills witnessed via video link are legally recognised and the changes will remain in place until 31 January 2022 or ‘as long as deemed necessary’.

You can see full guidance on making wills using video-conferencing in England and Wales on GOV.UK.

See also

How to make or amend a will during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown

Making a will in Scotland during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown

Will enquiries in the UK have increased by 75 per cent

Find out more

Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK (GOV.UK)

1837 Wills Act (Legislation)

Image: Getty Images

Publication update: 28 July 2020