remote wills

Solicitors Title explains how it achieved the most significant Wills reform since 1677

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.

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South West Law Firm First to Execute a Remote Will

On 1st May Solicitors Title set a new and important legal precedent. We believe that we have become the first law firm in the United Kingdom to prepare and execute a will electronically, in full conformity with section 9 of the Wills Act 1837. Our newly devised protocols protect our clients against any risk of exposure to Corvid 19 during the entire process: whether directly from the physical proximity of witnesses or indirectly from contact with contaminated surfaces.

On Monday 27 April, Solicitors Title was consulted by a self-isolating client who wanted to know whether it would be possible to sign and witness his will in complete safety and, at the same time, to avoid the indiscrete rigmarole and inconvenience of ‘drive-by’ and ‘through-window’ witnessing practiced by some enterprising law firms.

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Posted in: Covid-19: Response