Signing and witnessing a Will during Covid-19
At the moment, everyone is getting to grips with the restrictions on movement and the social distancing measures introduced by the government to try and combat the spread of the Coronavirus.
Whilst we are all getting to grips with what this means for us in every day life, those advising on the preparation of Wills are facing additional challenges to ensure that they are properly executed.
What are the legal requirements for signing a Will?
There are very clear rules on the legal requirements for signing a Will. Broadly speaking the key requirements are:
- Signing a Will needs a physical signature
- It must be signed by the person making the Will and it must be signed in the presence of two witnesses
- The witnesses must also sign the Will who must sign in the presence of the person making the Will
These requirements obviously cause some significant headaches given the current Covid-19 crisis and whilst the government has been lobbied by various professional bodies to amend the legislation to relax the strict requirements, it has so far not introduced any leeway.
How can a Will be signed and witnessed during Covid-19?
Everyone’s circumstances are different and it is going to be necessary to deal with each situation as it arises which is likely to result in some people finding creative ways to comply with the legislation.
In simple terms a Will can be signed and witnessed properly whilst still observing the government’s current social distancing policy. For example, it is perfectly possible for the person making his or her Will to sign it at the front door leaving the Will on the doorstep accessible for two witnesses to come forward and sign it, whilst the person making the Will has retreated into the hallway but is still able to see the witnesses making their declaration (not forgetting the witnesses need to be able see the person making the Will sign it as well).
Can Wills be signed and witnessed via video calls?
There has some discussion about whether it is possible to witness a Will by video call but at the moment, unless the legislation is amended or the court decides otherwise, this would mean a Will is not valid.
How can Rix & Kay help?
In any event and whatever your circumstances, we will work with you to find a way to sign your Will within the legal requirements and ensuring that the health and welfare of all individuals is protected as best as possible.
Whilst it is not possible to witness a will via video calls, we are happy to oversee the execution of Wills via video call to ensure they are valid; and can help guide on social distancing requirements and ways to protect vulnerable people.
For more information on how Rix & Kay can help you prepare a new Will or update an existing Will contact Bruce Clarke, Partner in Rix & Kay’s Private Client Team. e. firstname.lastname@example.org ; t. 01732 440 853