Since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, we have been contacted by many people wanting to ensure they have Wills in place or to update existing Wills. This has no doubt been prompted partly by the natural fear of serious illness in the current climate, but also many people have found they have had the time to think about what they would like to happen in the event of their death.
For many people making a Will in normal circumstances is a task that is easily put off. In the past few weeks, we have seen a significant increase in people seeking our advice on Wills. We would like to assure you that our offices are open for business and we can meet people in a COVID safe environment.
However, for some older or vulnerable people who are continuing to safeguard this may not be possible. We are still able to assist them by communicating with them either by telephone, email or requesting them to write to us if they can get to a post-box or have a neighbour who can post a letter for them.
Whatever the Will is to say, however, it is of no consequence unless it is valid, and that means making sure it is executed according to the law. The signing of Wills has presented a real challenge in lockdown.
A typical Will is signed by the person making it and witnessed by two people present at the same time who are not beneficiaries of the Will (so not family usually) and not the spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary.
Successfully signing a Will whilst maintaining social distancing can be achieved by taking the required steps out of doors, in separate rooms (as long as there is a line of sight) or through a window, and often with the assistance of neighbours as witnesses. The recommended hygiene precautions (handwashing, gloves, separate pens, maintaining 2m distance etc.) can and should be followed.
We always encourage our clients whatever their circumstances to have a Will as an essential way to express their wishes and sometimes their deeply held beliefs and feelings in the event of their death. In these difficult times, that message has never been more important and we are here to help our clients however we can.
We wish you well and keep safe during these exceptional times.