The Briefing: Vicki Gulliver Head of the Probate team at Lodders

The Briefing: Vicki Gulliver Head of the Probate team at Lodders

Vicki is senior associate and chartered legal executive in Lodders’ Private Client team, and part of the MyGoodbyes panel of experts. She advises clients on a broad range of private client matters including wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) the administration of estates and also assists families dealing with probate issues.

Vicki recently produced a blog discussing the decision by the UK Government to end the video witnessing of wills.

Video witnessing

During the COVID-19 pandemic, legislation was introduced which amended the 1837 Wills Act stating that the normal requirement for two people to witness a testator signing their will in person could now include remote witnessing by video link. This temporary legislation was put into place because of the practical difficulties associated with having a will witnessed during periods of lockdown and when individuals were self-isolating or shielding.  

The government had always provided guidance stating that video-witnessing wills should be seen as a last resort, however during 2020 and its subsequent lockdowns, this was often a necessary course of action. Whilst this change to the law lasted for four years, it was only ever intended to be a temporary measure, and there were concerns that video-witnessing could result in increased fraud and undue influence of elderly and vulnerable testators. 

Reinstating the original Wills Act

As of 1 February 2024, it is no longer possible to witness a will via video in England and Wales, although wills that were executed via video witnessing between January 2020 and January 2024 will still be regarded as legally valid wills. 

The original Wills Act 1837 will now come back into force, which states that no will is valid unless:

  • it is in writing, and signed by the testator, or by some other person in his/her presence and by his/her direction 
  • it appears that the testator intended by his/her signature to give effect to the will 
  • the signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the time 
  • each witness either:
  • attests and signs the will 
  • or acknowledges his/her signature in the presence of the testator (but not normally in the presence of any other witnesses), but no form of attestation shall be necessary 

Whilst it is perhaps unsurprising that the government has made the decision to reinstate the original and established 1837 Wills Act, some argue that the move is not reflective of today’s digital society. The Law Commission launched a consultation into the reform of the law of wills in 2017, which included the use of electronic wills. This was later paused due to the pandemic, but it is likely that we will see discussions recommencing with regards to wills legislation in the near future. 

You can read the full post here.

Why not check out some of our insights: Your goodbye Archives – MyGoodbyes

We will also be hosting a MyGoodbyes Dying Matters Week event with Vicki on 10 May. Sign up here: Events ( We have sold out on Eventbrite so we are offering limited spaces via Zoom here.