The coronavirus crisis is taking hold of the UK causing unprecedented disruption to our daily lives. This crisis and the measures being put in place to control it are creating incomparable issues for practitioners as they try and balance the need to keep safe and comply with social distancing guidelines with the requirements of drafting valid and provable wills.
Thomas Middlehurst (Partner, Moore Blatch) in conjunction with Edward Hicks (Barrister, Radcliffe Chambers) have prepared an article exploring the case law surrounding the execution of wills and setting out some practical guidance and suggestions on how to overcome some of the issues currently being faced by practitioners. In particular, they explore the viability of a technological solution to execute a will using video conferencing, by which the testators and two witnesses each sign the will (at different times) and acknowledge their signature in each other’s remote but visual presence.
In the absence of parliamentary intervention, it remains to be seen whether the courts will accept such technological solutions to a unique problem created by the present crisis. However, we believe a strong case can be made on the basis of the case law and as a matter of policy for the acceptance of remote witnessing of wills via live video link.