Can I still make a Will during the Coronavirus outbreak?
The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has prompted many people to think about making a Will or updating their existing one. After all, having a Will gives you peace of mind that your money and other assets will go to the people you wish, after you die.
If you have children, a Will also ensures they are provided for and cared for by the people you have chosen before your death. Writing a Will also gives you the opportunity to arrange your affairs to minimise the amount of inheritance tax payable from your estate.
Using a specialist Wills expert, rather than an online off-the-shelf Wills service, reduces the risk of costly inaccuracies or could even lead to your Will becoming invalid. See our blog on 5 reasons to use a solicitor when writing your Will for more information on this.
The current government-enforced restrictions, however, have left many people wondering how they can make a Will.
Is it possible to make a Will in the current situation?
In March the government confirmed that those people who are ‘essential to the running of the justice system’ during this time, are critical in keeping the country running.
However, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) issued further guidance on which work by legal professionals is classified as essential – and it included solicitors who work with clients to make a Will.
Can I write a Will from home?
In normal circumstances, most law firms would see clients in-person to take instructions and give advice. However, due to the Coronavirus, Will services are being offered via electronic means, such as Zoom video conferencing, or over the telephone with solicitors who are working from home.
There is no reason why close contact is necessary to execute a Will, with many law firms having adapted their processes so that they can act for their clients remotely.
Can a Will be witnessed remotely?
The Wills Act 1837 specifies that a witness must be physically present, and witnessing through electronic means is prohibited.
In situations where law firms would usually witness the Will in the presence of the client, other options can be considered on a case-by-case basis. For instance, a client may have a neighbour who can execute the Will whilst maintaining appropriate social distancing. Law firms are sending instructions to clients on how to correctly execute a Will.
However, if the legal professional is not acting as a witness to a Will, then it is possible to supervise the signing of a Will using electronic means.
It can be helpful to video record the signing of the Will. Once the current social distancing measures are lifted, legal professionals may meet with their clients for a resigning of the Will.
For vulnerable individuals with complex needs, how can a Will be executed during the Coronavirus outbreak?
There may be concern that those with complex needs such as those in a nursing home or hospital, may have trouble navigating video calls and remote ways of communicating.
A good law firm will offer flexibility according to their clients’ requirements and needs.
As Wills are considered an essential service, in exceptional circumstances when video conferencing is not an option, some legal professionals can visit clients – whilst following the government guidelines on social distancing. This is unlikely to happen, however, in nursing homes and hospitals due to their current entry restrictions.
In this case, the capacity of the client will be taken into consideration and the solicitor will work closely with family members and nursing home staff when deciding on how best to proceed.
Here at Osborne Morris & Morgan, we are still here for you as our staff work safely from home. You can still get in touch with us directly to discuss your Will. Aside from exceptional circumstances, where we are following Government guidance, all of our meetings are taking place via Zoom video conferencing or over the telephone.
To arrange a call with one of our team members, or for anything else, please feel free to contact us either by phone on 01525 378177, email via email@example.com, or online – where we are ready to help you.
We wish you all well during these challenging times.