29 / 06 / 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic is encouraging people to make or update their Will, but there is understandably concern about how you go about this whilst the Covid-19 lockdown rules are in place, in some form.

Taking your instructions
Whilst we would ordinarily take your instructions for your Will face to face, during the current phase of the Government’s lockdown rules, we are well placed and readily available to take your Will instructions “at a distance” by email, telephone or preferably video call.

Signing your Will
In normal times, we would advise you to sign your Will at our office but until this is possible, we will guide you on how to sign your Will at home. The Will must be signed by you and two independent adult witnesses and all three people must be physically present in the same place when this happens. A Will cannot currently be signed electronically and witnessing cannot take place remotely via a video link such as FaceTime or Skype.

The witnessing requirements might cause difficulty in the light of lockdown restrictions and social distancing rules, and especially so if you are self-isolating or shielding. You should not ask someone in your household to witness the Will if they are a beneficiary under it, or they will not be able to inherit their gift. Ideally, family members (who are not beneficiaries) should not witness either.

If you are self-isolating or shielding, the Will can be witnessed at a protective distance; for example, on the other side of a window, over a fence, or with the front door open. Provided you and your witnesses still have a clear line of sight to the Will, it is possible for the Will to be executed validly and safely. Otherwise, for those who are not self-isolating or shielding, the easing of the lockdown restrictions from 4 July 2020 makes this procedure slightly easier than it has been to date during lockdown. You can ask two independent people from different households to witness your Will outside, provided this is done with at least a 1m social distance; or signing can take place inside, at a social distance, if you invite two independent people from one other household to witness.

Waiting until after lockdown
If you do not have a Will, your estate will be governed by the intestacy rules, which might not reflect your intentions and could also result in adverse tax consequences. For example, many people assume that their entire estate would pass to their spouse, but this is only if you do not have direct descendants.

We are available remotely to help you make your Will and execute it correctly, helping to give you peace of mind during this pandemic.