Dr Bevan explains in Today’s Wills and Probate, how our detailed paper, calling for government intervention, persuaded the Justice Secretary to take decisive action to help self-isolating testators make their wills in safety. We are grateful to the Advocate General, Lord Keen QC, for his fulsome and gracious acknowledgement of the strength of our case for reform.
Archive July 2020
After Executing the first remote will in the UK, The Times’ law diary considers Solicitors Title’s landmark step and what possibilities the new law might bring, in Debate of the Week: Have Lawyer< Will Zoom, by Edward Fennell in The Times
Since the start of lockdown, necessitating a change in approach brought about by the pandemic, Solicitors Title and Dr Nicholas Bevan, have led a successful lone campaign to persuade the Government to sanction the most radical innovation in procedure for executing wills, in 343 years. The announcement legalising video wills being the first real change since King Charles II’s reign, under the Statute of Frauds 1677!
Such approval of Solicitors Title’s novel approach, utilising audio visual technology, enables private citizens to complete their will from the privacy and safety of their own homes, without having to travel into the office to sign their will in the presence of two witnesses. Alongside the obvious health benefit for anyone particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, such adoption of what is now common-place technology also aids convenience and discretion.
Our innovation has been made in the face of almost universal opposition from within the profession who believed, mistakenly, that section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 requires the testamentary witnesses to be physically present at the signing. The Government clearly shares our view that this is misconceived and this is why its guidance expressly states that it is not, in fact, changing the law; but merely clarifying it.
In light of such positive endorsement, yesterday we completed the world’s first completely remote cross-border will for a client in Crete.
On 29 July 2020 Solicitors Title LLP executed a will for an elderly client who had retired to live in Crete. The entire process of executing the will (signing, acknowledging and witnessing ) was undertaken remotely, using online live-streaming technology, from Solicitors Title LLP’s offices in the West Country. This is believed to be a world-wide precedent; unparalleled in any other jurisdiction.