The pitfalls of creating a remote will
Rules made in September 2020 that permit wills to be witnessed over video are set to continue and will run until 31 January 2024.
Many will drafters have taken instructions remotely since the start of the pandemic but there is a concern among professionals that remote wills could be disputed.
What are the risks of remote wills?
Will makers are concerned that taking instructions remotely restricts the ability for them to check that the person making the will is not subject to undue influence or fraud. This can be identified more easily when face to face, not only because the will creator is one on one with the client without outside influences, but also because it can be easier to ask sensitive questions about family relationships or more sensitive matters in person rather than via a video link. In a video link, it is easy for somebody to hide out of shot and place influence on the person making the will.
Will drafters also worry that they lack protection due to the nature of the agreement being made over video rather than in person. Lack of capacity may be more evident in person. This is particularly important for elderly clients, who are most susceptible to capacity questions yet may be more uncomfortable or unfamiliar with a video meeting than a younger client whose capacity is less likely to be questioned.
The logistics of video wills are also more complex than a physical signing. Several video meetings may be required and the will must be posted back and forth to witnesses etc. This adds risk as pages could be inserted or removed from the will before it is posted.
Avoiding a challenge to a remote will
While remote will execution may sometimes be necessary, it’s generally recommended by The Law Society to be a last resort. Whenever possible, wills should be signed and witnessed in person to ensure validity and minimise potential errors or challenges down the line.
In instances where remote execution is unavoidable, stringent procedures must be implemented to mitigate risks. It’s advisable for the will drafter to be present during all video meetings to provide guidance and ensure compliance with legal requirements.
However, if a testator has executed a will remotely due to circumstances beyond their control, it’s prudent to consider executing a physical copy as well, once conditions permit. This additional step can help further safeguard against any potential challenges to the will’s validity.
At Complete Estate Protection, we understand the importance of proper will execution and strive to provide expert guidance and support to our clients. Our team is experienced in advising and drafting legally binding wills, and we offer face-to-face drafting sessions either in our office or the comfort of your own home. With our assistance, you can rest assured that your estate planning needs will be handled with the utmost care and professionalism.
Alternatively, please contact us via email on email@example.com or call 01642 493101.