How can I make a Will during the COVID - 19 lockdown?
The current global pandemic has caused many people to think about their own mortality and what arrangements they have in place to protect their families if the unthinkable were to happen. We are seeing an increasing number of enquiries in relation to Wills with people wishing to ensure that they have suitable arrangements in place.
Our Wills & Probate department are still very much open for business and ready and willing to assist you during this difficult period to provide peace of mind to you and your family.
The current government ‘lockdown’ does pose difficulties to the usual way in which we draft and execute our wills however, our team are following government guidelines and looking at new ways in which we can help our client with their wills.
Do I have to meet with my solicitor face to face to prepare my will?
As part of the requirements for making a will it is important that your solicitor is satisfied that you have mental capacity to make a will and that no one is placing you under any undue influence. This is the reason why in usual circumstances we would ask to meet with you on your own at a face to face meeting.
Given the current government guidelines we are unfortunately, not able to offer appointments at our offices or home visits. We are therefore currently offering telephone appointments and video call meetings with our clients in order to take instructions for their will.
How will I approve the draft of my will before signing it?
Once instructions have been taken from you, your solicitor will prepare a draft of your will and this can either be sent to you by email or post with an explanatory letter. This will allow you the time to read over your will carefully to ensure you are happy that it meets with your wishes and ensure that you understand it. If you have any questions about your draft, then your solicitor will be available to discuss this with you over the telephone.
How will I sign my will and who can act as my witnesses?
The current rules around social distancing are posing a significant challenge to people when signing their wills. The current law is very strict about how wills are signed, and this has not changed despite the current global crisis. Currently, your will must be signed by you in the presence of two independent witnesses who must be present at the same time and must also sign your will. It is very important to note that a witness cannot be a beneficiary or a spouse of a beneficiary as this would invalidate any gift left to that particular beneficiary in your will.
We are working with our clients to find a way for them to sign their wills in a way which works best for them and for which they are most comfortable with. Some of our clients have been happy to sign their will at home with neighbours acting as their witnesses but applying the social distancing rules. Some clients who are key workers have been able to ask colleagues to assist them with witnessing their wills. We are happy to be present over video call when this happens so that we can talk you through the process and ensure that it is followed correctly.
For those clients who may not have witnesses available we are asking whether they wish to drive to our office and sign their wills in their car with two members from our team witnessing this outside of the car window. Whilst this may seem strange, various professional bodies have issued guidance to suggest it would be sufficient for a person to sign their will at a window in plain sight of two independent witnesses in the context of the current global health crisis.
What should I do with my will once I have signed this?
We are asking that our clients either send the original will to us for us to check and store on their behalf or send us a scanned copy by email.
We do not charge for storage of your will and we will send you a copy of your signed will.
Can I re-sign my will at your offices once the situation changes?
Yes, we are offering for our clients to return to us once the restrictions are relaxed to re-sign their will at our office with us acting as witnesses. This will be at no extra charge to you.