Helping clients by using video technology

Virtual Wills now considered valid by government

The government this week announced that Wills can now be witnessed remotely using video calls. The change has been introduced temporarily to January 31st 2022, and backdated to January 31st 2020, to help people who are shielding or housebound or otherwise unable to have their signature witnessed in person.

Vincents Solicitors’ Lisa Lodge director and private client solicitor has welcomed the move:

“Many hundreds of thousands of Wills have been made or updated during the lockdown, as fears over the pandemic have grown.

‘It had already been agreed that Wills witnessed through windows are acceptable, and now the video method should make it even easier for clients.

“We’re pleased the government has chosen to take the pragmatic and progressive view to embrace new technology in a way that will help clients.

“I’ve been particularly impressed with how well my clients, many of them in the older shielding category, have adapted to using video services like WhatsApp video and Zoom.

“Here at Vincents we’ve already been using video extremely successfully to help them to write or update their Wills, undertaking capacity tests and taking instruction via virtual ‘ face-to-face’ meetings, and even overseeing the witnessing to ensure the signing is valid.

“If a client is unable to find a witness or is shielding and needs to be ultra careful about proximity to others, the new rules will mean they can still create or update a valid Will.

“But I am also keen to encourage clients to try to use a physical witness if possible, mainly from a pastoral perspective. A lot of our clients are older and many are alone or isolated. They find it quite an adventure to arrange the witnesses and it can even help them to develop new relationships.

“As it can’t be someone who may be a beneficiary of the Will, or their spouse – which usually therefore precludes family members – we’ve found clients getting very inventive. Carers, neighbours, volunteers, even delivery drivers are being drafted in to help, with Wills being signed and Witnessed through open windows and over garden fences, opening new conversations and sometimes new friendships.

“Even when restrictions ease further, I think it would be very valuable for the government to continue with this new scenario. People may still be wary of venturing out for quite some time, and a lot of elderly people have simply lost their confidence over the last few months, and the continuation of these adaptations will benefit those people.

“I’m also finding younger clients are liking the option to make their arrangements via video call, as it’s less time out of their day and somehow a less onerous, formal process. It’s taking away a lot of the apprehension and anxiety for people, removing barriers to them getting their legal affairs in order, and that can only be a good thing.”

Making a Will or setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney is simple and straightforward with Vincents Solicitors. The private client team can set up a video call – and help you to set up a video call system if necessary – and will talk you through every step of the process.

One of our solicitors can be on a video call with you to oversee the signing of the Will, a hard copy of which is posted out and can be signed at home with witnesses.

Vincents’ offices are also now Covid secure, with screens and additional hygiene procedures in place, so meetings and Will signings can now take place at the branch by appointment.

For more information or to make an appointment contact Vincents’ Private Client team on 01772 555 176.