The Law Society has welcomed the government’s plans to temporarily legalise wills witnessed over Zoom and Skype, in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

A statutory instrument laid in September will allow testators’ signatures to be witnessed using video conferencing software, such as Zoom, Facetime and Skype.

Once a will has been signed by the testator it can be posted to witnesses, who sign it themselves during live-action web conferences.

The reforms will be backdated to 31 January 2020 and will stay in place until 31 January 2022 – or as long as necessary. After this, wills must go back to being made with witnesses who are physically present.

Law Society president Simon Davis welcomed the measure, saying: “We look forward to working with government to ensure the reform is robust and successful.” However, he also noted that “we are pleased to see that the changes are only intended to remain in place for two years”.