Making a Will during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Paul Mounce, 6th April, 2020
It is an unfortunate fact that a situation like the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic inevitably leads people to think about their affairs and what would happen to them and their family if the worst were to happen.
One of those things is ensuring that you have a Will, or if you have a Will that it is up to date. Making sure you have this in place will make things easier for your loved ones should anything happen.
The problem lies in the validity of Wills being governed by the Wills Act 1837. This states that for a Will to be valid it must be in writing, signed by the Testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time. The Act of witnessing a Will, needing at least three people, appears to contravene government regulations stopping all gatherings of more than 2 people.
There are currently discussions taking place between various organisations to consider amendments to the legislation. These range from reducing the number of witnesses, to allowing witnessing via video-link. None of these options have been brought into law meaning that any Will not signed in accordance with the Wills Act faces the very real possibility of being invalid. However, it should be possible for a Will to be witnessed without breaching the government guidelines. Case law suggests that the important thing is that the witnesses have sight of the person signing the Will. Perhaps a client signing in their garden and then asking their neighbours in the next garden to act as witnesses!
What’s more witnesses do not need to know the contents of your Will, so perhaps it is something that can be done while waiting in those long supermarket queues! While we appreciate the utmost importance of social distancing, we also know how important a Will is and want to help clients be able to get their affairs in order, safely, where possible.
At Gosschalks we have the technology to allow us to take instructions for and prepare your Will remotely via telephone call or video link. We can also be present remotely during the Will signing to ensure the requirements are adhered to.
We are happy to have a chat with you to see if there is an actual need for you to have a Will, or if you already have a Will, ensure that it is valid and does what you require. What is more, we are offering any client who makes a Will during the Corona Virus pandemic the opportunity to visit us once things get back to normal to review and re-sign their will if required at no cost.
Alternatively please visit our online Will questionnaire to provide your details securely online.