Can I still make a Will after Lockdown?
Many readers will be asking, is it possible to write a Will in the current situation with the Coronavirus?
Well it is a good question to ask, and there isn’t a simple answer. Some solicitors have reported an increase in demand for Wills in recent months. This could be due to people ill with the virus, wanting to put their affairs in order.
We sometimes hear about “Death Bed Wills” made when a person is ill in hospital. If a person is suffering with the virus in hospital, it will be virtually impossible to make a legally valid Will. The reason for this, is that two independent witnesses are required, when the person signs the document. In the current situation, the hospital is unlikely to allow witnesses into the hospital. At the time of writing, if a person is suffering with the virus, even close family cannot visit.
It should also be noted that staff members, such as doctors and nurses are generally discouraged from getting involved in a patient’s affairs. A further complication is that often patients in hospital may be under medication and not able to think and reason as they might otherwise.
The situation is easier if the client is at home. If they are ill with the virus, it would be advised to wait until they are 100% recovered before trying to give instructions. Assuming they have full mental capacity, it may be possible to take instructions by phone or computer, using services such as Zoom or Teams. They may also be able to download a Will online. Care should be exercised to make sure they are acting independently.
The signing and witnessing of the Will should ideally be done in the traditional way, so both witnesses see the testator, (the person making the Will) sign. To maintain social distancing, this could be done in a garden, or other open space. The testator will need to find a couple of witnesses as usual. This might be slightly more difficult than normal as witnesses may be reluctant to get involved. Ideally, the witnesses should not be family and completely independent.
The Ministry of Justice have now said they will accept Wills signed and witnessed at a distance. However, the required process is quite complicated, and so care is needed to make sure the Will is valid.
Kendal Wills have a Covid 19 policy which can be viewed here.
What to do next?
If you would like to discuss your circumstances with regards to writing a Will, setting up a trust or a lasting power attorney, then please call 0845 689 1495 or get in touch via our secure contact form here.