Royds Withy King welcomes move to allow Wills to be witnessed via video link

July 29, 2020

Changes to legislation that will mean individuals can have their Wills witnessed via video links have been welcomed by law firm Royds Withy King, which has been using WhatsApp to liaise with clients in this way during lockdown.

The government this week said that it will introduce a retrospective law to reassure thousands of people who might be concerned that Wills executed during lockdown over a video call would have no legal force. 

Royds Withy King, which has an office in Swindon, turned to the mobile video call platform WhatsApp help seriously ill people with Covid-19 create or update a Will while remaining in strict isolation.

As a result, it was able to overcome the difficult – and unprecedented – legal issues around changing Wills without the parties being physically together. 

Amanda Noyce, pictured, a partner in the Bath-headquartered firm’s contested wills, trusts and inheritance disputes team, said she was delighted by the government’s announcement.

“It is a vital solution for families, and one which we have provided during lockdown to our clients where necessary,” she said.

“There has been a sharp increase in instructions for Wills since the coronavirus crisis, with people wanting to take steps to put their affairs in order, as the risk played on everyone’s mind.”

The firm acted for a very ill individual with Covid-19 in the early days of lockdown, taking instructions from him via a WhatsApp video call.

Using the video facility, lawyers were able to check that he was alone in the room to ensure he was not being coerced. His wishes were then recorded and a draft emailed to him.

In a second video call to execute the Will, the client instructed the solicitor to sign his will on his behalf, while the client watched on the video. Then the solicitor and his wife signed the will as witnesses. 

Amanda added: “We had to warn the client that this was the best that could be done in the circumstances and that the Will might well be formally invalid: a test case would be required to determine whether the Will was in fact valid.

“In our view it was arguable that the Will did satisfy the requirements of the Wills Act, since it was signed and witnessed in the line of sight of the client – albeit that the line of sight was via video.

“To be sure, however, we advised that the Will should be re-executed in conventional fashion should the client recover. In fact, happily in that case the client did recover and so was able to re-execute his Will – although now the new law would assist in any event.”




Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across Swindon & Wiltshire for just £70 a month. Email for more information.