It’s never a great time to write about the importance of making a Will, especially when you’re in the middle of a global health epidemic, however the Covid-19 outbreak is leading to a sudden increase in people making or updating their Wills in the UK.
Regardless of what is going on around us at present this shouldn’t halt your plans to make sure your wishes are protected after you die. If making a Will is something you have just never got around to doing, then maybe now is the time to put those plans into action.
Making a Will isn’t just something for older generations – it is recommended that anyone with dependents, such as a spouse, partner or children should have something in place should the unexpected happen. Likewise if you are a homeowner or have any other significant assets – have you thought about what would happen to them in the event of your passing?
Having a properly drafted Will in place will ensure your wishes are upheld.
How can you make a Will under social isolation rules?
Putting your wishes in place and drafting the Will can be done remotely anyway, so stating your wishes can be done via email, phone or video call, which is something we do for some of our clients already.
We’re happy to take instructions from our clients via any of these methods to get the wheels in motion, and the document can then be emailed or posted out for your review prior to finalising the finishing touches.
What about signing the Will?
As you may be aware, a legally binding Will needs to be physically countersigned by two independent witnesses. This is typically done in a meeting involving the Will maker, the Legal Executive (acting as one of the witnesses) and another witness.
Legislation states that the signature of the Testator (the person making Will) is made or acknowledged in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time, and each witness either signs or acknowledges their own signature, in the presence of the Will maker (but not necessarily in the presence of any other witness).
In theory this means you could:
- Stand in your garden with a neighbour either side of their garden fences, watching you sign your Will, and then they can each sign the Will, they do not have to see each other sign as well.
- You could also be on a video call with two witnesses who, at the same time have both seen you sign your Will but then you send the Will to them one at a time to add their signature to the document.
So by relaxing normal protocol and following the legislation, your Will can still be completed whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines.
If you are still struggling to obtain witnesses then we could also provide a video call if absolutely necessary.
Just remember that your witnesses cannot be your spouse, a related family member, anyone who is named as a beneficiary or anyone married to a beneficiary in the Will.
Will this affect the privacy of the content of the Will?
Witnesses don’t have to read the document, they just need to be there to sign it. So there is no need to worry about someone reading something that is private to you.
As long as they can see that you sign and you acknowledge it is your Will, this is sufficient.
What should you do with the signed Will?
Please return the original signed document to us using a prepaid envelope provided so that we may check it has been signed and witnessed correctly. We will then send copies out to you for your records. Alternatively if you cannot do this and you have the facility to scan the signed document to us to check, please do so and then you can return the original once the restrictions have been lifted.
How can you make a start with drafting a Will?
If making a new Will or updating an existing one is a priority for you at present, all you need to do to get started is to contact our Wills & Probate team on 0114 266 4432 or email [email protected] and we will be in touch with you to start the process of drafting your Will.
If you cannot reach us during this busy time or your matter is urgent you can email our Legal Executive directly at [email protected]
We’re there for you every step of the way so if you have any questions our team are more than happy to assist.