The government has announced that temporary Will signing measures, put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, ended on 31 January 2024.

During the pandemic lockdown, a temporary amendment was made to the Wills Act 1837, allowing Wills to be witnessed by video. Accompanying guidance suggested that this should only be done as a last resort however. 

The original amendment lasted from 31 January 2020 until 31 January 2022, but was extended until 31 January 2024, as fears still existed about further strains of the covid-19 virus. 

Government announcement on video witnessing of Wills

Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Lord Bellamy, released the following statement on 1 February 2024 announcing the ending of the measure. 

“The Government are announcing today that they are not extending the legislation they introduced as a special measure during the covid-19 pandemic to permit remote (video) witnessing of wills.

The legislation was originally introduced in September 2020, amending the Wills Act 1837 so the normal requirement that two people must witness the testator signing to make their will in person could be extended to include remote witnessing by video-link. The Government and professional bodies published guidance on the steps that should be taken where wills were video-witnessed.

This temporary legislation was a response to the practical difficulties of having wills witnessed while restrictions on movement to limit the spread of the virus were in force, and at a time when more people wanted to make wills. The Government have always provided guidance that video-witnessing wills should be regarded as a last resort due to increased risks of formalities not being properly followed or risk of undue influence.

The Government decided to extend the temporary legislation for a further two years in February 2022. At the time the United Kingdom had only recently ended a further set of restrictions and there were concerns about further strains of the virus.

However, the special circumstances which applied when this measure was put in place no longer apply. In-person witnessing of wills is no longer subject to restrictions. As such we have decided not to extend the temporary legislation beyond 31 January 2024.” 

How should a Will be witnessed?

It is crucial to ensure that a Will is correctly signed and witnessed. If it is not, it is likely to be invalid and this might mean that an earlier Will could take effect or that your estate is left without a Will. If you do not leave a Will, then the Rules of Intestacy will decide who inherits. 

The signature of someone making a Will should be made or acknowledged in the presence of two witnesses who should both be there together.  

They should be told that the document is a Will, but they do not need to know what it contains. They should both sign and add their name, address and occupation. 

A witness should not be related to the person making the Will or to anyone who is named as a beneficiary. If a beneficiary or someone related to a beneficiary acts as a witness, then the gift to them will fail. 

If you have any concerns about the validity of your Will or you want to revise or update your Will, you should speak to a Wills solicitor. As well as drafting a legally sound Will, they will be able to discuss the implications of your Will and also ensure that it is correctly signed and witnessed.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert estate planners, ring us on 01634 353 658 or email us at