As set out in the Wills Act 1837 and as referred to in a recent Lodders blog (http://ow.ly/dL2p50AD7GP) in order for a will to be valid, it must be signed in front of two adult independent witnesses who must be physically present at the time of the signing.
Despite calls for the Ministry of Justice to relax these strict requirements due to the Coronavirus lockdown, there has been no change thus far. However, the Government is considering this currently.
It is clear that the law in England and Wales does not allow for witnessing via video link, as it does not comply with the 'physical presence' criteria.
Despite the requisite formalities, it is suspected that some wills may well have been witnessed remotely via Zoom. This means the witnesses could be called upon to set out the circumstances surrounding the signing of the will at a later date, if the validity of the will is later challenged.
In light of this, it is possible that contentious probate lawyers could see a rise in individuals suggesting a will was not validly executed, and should therefore be set aside.
It is hugely important that instructions are clearly recorded when preparing a will, and that capacity assessments are undertaken where required, as these could be vital evidence if a will is challenged later down the line.
Lockdown wills could prompt a wave of contentious probate claims, solicitors have warned, as video conferencing sows confusion about the witnessing of documents.