Huge news this weekend was that the government announced a change in the law which will now allow video witnessing of wills; making life easier for solicitor and client alike when wanting to document their final wishes during the pandemic.
Currently, the law requires two witnesses to be present when signing a will, but now, with all the changes having to be made as a result of Coronavirus, reforms will allow for witnessing to take place virtually over platforms such as Zoom and Skype.
Backdated to 31 January 2020, the new law affords those who no choice but to make a will in this manner over these past few months can be assured it will be valid, provided the other formalities are met.
Industry body STEP said
"We are delighted that the Government has responded to the industry’s calls to allow will witnessing over video conference. By removing the need for any physical witnesses, wills can continue to be drawn up efficiently, effectively and safely by those isolating."
These new measures will remain in place until January 2022, but that time could be shortened or lengthened if deemed necessary.
An important element to note is that the witnesses still need to physically sign the will - electronic signatures are not sufficient, it is the video that will be legal part – the actual wet signature still stands.
Alongside this, your engagement with new clients is more difficult, to comply with new social distancing rules and to protect potentially those are vulnerable due to underlying health issues, means that your client onboarding processes will need to change.
The need for verification at a ‘distance’ is paramount in these new times and by using a digital verification tool, the control of proving client identity is entirely owned by the client.
With digital ID verification your clients no longer need to visit your offices with their passport, driving licence or utility bill. They take a selfie and upload a picture of their physical ID (passport or driving licence) themselves, removing the need for a physical presentation by the client, saving time for Solicitors and making it all the more convenient for everyone.
With Minerva you can quickly and easily verify your client's identity before getting started with their wills and probate matters.