The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lifestyles, the way we work and communicate and even the way we think about our future. We have noticed a growing number of customers enquiring about wills, which is completely understandable in the current situation.
Many of our clients have contacted us asking if it’s possible to change their wills and we have come up with solutions to continue to provide our services. We want to help our clients in these uncertain times while practising social distancing and prioritising our clients’ and employees’ health and safety.
So, here is how to achieve making or amending a will during the UK lockdown:
How to make a valid will:
To make a valid will in England and Wales, the will has to be witnessed by two independent witnesses so that all three – the two witnesses and the will maker – are present together. In more detail, the Wills Act 1827 states that a will is valid if:
- It is written and signed by the testator, or by some other person in their presence and by their 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 same time.
- Lastly, 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.
Who cannot be your witness:
- Any of your beneficiaries named in your will, including your husband, wife or civil partner.
- Anyone under 18 years old.
- Anyone who does not have sufficient mental capacity to understand what they are witnessing or anyone who is partially sighted or blind.
How to get a will witnessed while social distancing:
After reading the points above, you may be thinking that it will be impossible to get a will witnessed while self-isolating. Getting a will witnessed can be a challenge during a pandemic but there is a way to achieve this.
The solution is to call friends or neighbours and arrange to meet them outdoors in distance, for example, in your driveway. Please note for everyone’s safety, each person should stand two metres apart, use their own pens and wear gloves.
The will can be placed on a table or car and each person can separately and carefully sign it. Once everyone has signed, place the paper in an envelope while you are still wearing gloves. Everyone should then make sure to wash their hands when they are back home.
If all three parties properly witnessed while observing the recommended social distancing, it will meet the S9 requirements.
Our solicitors are working from home and can help you write a will via telephone, email and Skype video calling. We can give you advice, share documents via email and make amendments to existing wills.
The Law Society is pushing the government to relax the rules and the Ministry of Justice is examining ways to relax the requirements around will writing in England and Wales. However, two witnesses are still required until there is an update.
We want to assure you that DMA Law will continue to provide the exceptional levels of service. Please contact us via email or telephone by calling the office landline nearest to your home. We are monitoring the situation regularly. Thank you for your patience and understanding.