According to the Law Society, the number of people looking to write new Wills in the UK has risen by at least 30 per cent following the outbreak of coronavirus. Nevertheless, the process of creating and amending Wills relies heavily on face-to-face interaction, which makes the government measures to stay at home and self-isolate more challenging.
It’s crucial that during this period, you do not delay getting your estate planning in order. Being in lockdown is an unusual situation to adapt to, however, it has also created an opportunity for people to get overdue tasks completed, including writing or revising your Will.
At Avadis & Co, we are always available to assist you and will continue to offer trusted guidance, no matter your legal need. To speak with a member of our team about your estate planning, call us on 020 3962 0898 or complete the online enquiry form and one of our lawyers will get back to you as soon as possible.
Wills and the effect of COVID-19
Having a valid Will in place is always recommended to safeguard your assets and ensure your loved ones will be looked after should something happen to you. It is important to note that finalising your Will is still achievable without infringing the social distancing rules, albeit more consideration has to be given to the process than normal.
As it stands, we should not be leaving our homes for reasons other than necessary food shopping, one form of exercise a day and, for those considered key workers, going to their place of employment. This, therefore, makes it feel almost impossible to ensure your Will is legally binding as it must be signed by you (the testator) as well as witnesses.
For a Will to be valid in England, it must be:
- Made voluntarily, without pressure from another person, and by someone of sound mind
- Made in writing
- Made by someone aged 18 or older
- Signed in the presence of two witnesses over the age of 18
- Have it signed by the two witnesses, in your presence
You can read more about the requirements for writing a Will in England by clicking here.
The future of video witnessing
As of 29/04/20, there has been no changes to Will legislation that reflects the current restrictions. Numerous ideas have been proposed thus far, including:
- Witnesses watching you sign the Will through a video link
- Witnesses being physically present but remaining two metres away from the testator at the time of signing
- The use of privileged Wills, similar to those offered in the military service, so a witness does not need to be present
The Law Society has suggested video conferencing for the signing and witnessing of Wills, alongside detailed notes on the instruction and how it was executed. Where possible, the re-signing of Wills under standard procedures is also recommended following the lift of the current measures.
Conversations between the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Law Society about how best to proceed in terms of executing Wills are still ongoing, however, suggested options to adopt in the interim include:
- A system that provides judges with more flexibility when determining what constitutes a valid Will, and
- An approach where testators could write Wills by hand without witnesses.
While the lack of official guidance can feel stressful, there is valid reason behind the thorough review of legislation before anything is legally adapted. If a Will is not properly executed, there is a higher chance of it being challenged in the future.
The priority at this time is to ensure that any documentation stating your wishes on your death is legally binding. To ensure your Will is not questioned for its authenticity, get in touch with our team today.
For more information on witnessing Wills during the coronavirus crisis, click here.
Can I make my own Will in England?
DIY Wills are now, more than ever, likely to be created due to the restrictions of leaving your own home. However, these types of Wills should be considered with extreme caution, as they can be tricky in terms of abiding with legal requirements and could result in the Will being made void if not carried out correctly.
That is why we remain fully available to assist you with your Will through video conferencing calls, helping you to ensure your Will is legally valid and will carry out your wishes on your death.
Contact our Wills lawyers, London today
Although this is a difficult time for everyone, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light why we have to be prepared for such unforeseen circumstances. That is why at Avadis & Co, we will provide continued support throughout the lockdown measures, assisting you with your legal concerns. Do not delay, speak with our Wills team today on 020 3962 0898 or by completing the online contact form and we will help ease the stress that this crisis has caused.
This guide does not constitute legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only. If you require specific legal advice you should contact one of our lawyers who can advise you based on your own circumstances.
Please note this information is accurate as of 29/04/20 and is subject to change as official guidance is adapted to reflect the implications of the virus.