In light of the novel Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, demand for will writing has continuously increased. People are concerned about the future and want to make sure their estate is in order in case anything were to happen to them.
However, due to the government guidelines, particularly the ruling on social distancing, Private Client Solicitors have had to change the way they provide will writing services.
The Law Society has declared Solicitors acting in connection with the execution of wills as essential workers; thus, alternative arrangements must be made to overcome the limitations of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For a Will to be valid, it must meet all the requirements listed in section 9 of the wills Act 1837. The act states that no will shall be valid unless: -
- it is in writing; it is signed by the Testator (person making the will), or by some other person in their presence and by their direction; and
- that the Testator intended to give effect to the will and
- the signature is made or acknowledged by the Testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and
- each witness either –
- (i) attests and signs the will; or
- (ii) acknowledges their signature in the presence of the Testator.
These requirements mean that for a will to be valid, all three people involved (The Testator and witnesses) must be in the same room at the same time to witness each signature. However, due to social distancing and self-isolation guidelines, it is not practical or safe for Solicitors and clients to witness wills as they usually would.
Overcoming social distancing for will writing
To overcome such obstacles and ensure compliance with the formalities of the Wills Act, Private Client Solicitors have adopted certain measures. These measures include:
- Passing the will through a letterbox for the Testator to sign in front of the window with the witnesses watching from outside and vice versa.
- Reading the contents of the will to the Testator through the window, and then the Solicitor signing the will on the Testator’s behalf; the witnesses then sign the will with the Testator watching through the window.
Notwithstanding the Coronavirus outbreak and policies on social distancing, other means can be used to ensure that a will is validly drafted and executed.
Although we, Deo Volente Solicitors, have suspended all face to face appointments until further notice, we have adopted alternative methods of communication such as telephone consultations, emails, letters and video calls.
At Deo Volente Solicitors, we will take instructions on your will by telephone consultation or email. We will also offer a ‘window service’ to ensure that your will is correctly drafted and executed without compromising your safety and wellbeing. We will always put the best interests of our clients above everything else.
Please rest assured that we are still taking instructions, preparing and executing wills despite the Coronavirus outbreak. We also offer urgent same day wills to provide you and your families with certainty and comfort. As probate registries are still open, we can still provide our probate services to clients in need.
In these unprecedented times, our experienced and friendly Private Client team can guide you in ensuring that your loved ones do not have to worry about what to do. If you require any advice or assistance on wills and probate, please call us on 01234 350244 for a free telephone consultation today.