Being in lockdown with more time at home is the perfect opportunity to start thinking about making a Will

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07 April, 2020

Jane Burbidge

According to the Law Society demand for Wills will surge by up to 70% as the coronavirus takes hold. Ian Bond, Chair of the Law Society Wills and Equity Committee said: "Will-writing is one of those things on people's to-do lists that they never get around to doing, but the current coronavirus crisis has focused their minds."

More people are working from home, or may not be working, which may give you time to think about making a Will and estate planning. Use this as an opportunity to discuss these matters with your family.

Things to consider are:

  • Who do you want to appointment as your Executors; the people legally responsible for carrying out your wishes expressed in your Will?
  • If you have young children, who do you want to appoint as guardian if both parents have died?
  • Who is to benefit from your estate? If you want to leave your estate to your children, at what age would you want them to inherit? Do any children have special needs to be provided for?
  • Do you have a complex family situation, perhaps a blended family with children from different marriages or relationships which require careful thought and planning?

The question in a lot of people's mind is can you make a Will whilst self-isolating or exercising social distancing? As you can imagine, social distancing and self-isolation poses practical problems and limitations in the preparation and execution of Wills.

We can take your instructions and advise you in relation to your Will by telephone or video conference via Skype, Facetime or WhatsApp. A draft Will can be posted or emailed to you for approval and we can discuss it with you by telephone or video conference. When you are happy with the Will we will send it out in the post to be signed and witnessed at home, providing clear written instructions and being available by telephone or video conference to guide you through the signing process if required.

One of the main obstacles for Wills in the current climate is that there must be two witnesses present when you sign your Will. The witnesses (broadly speaking) cannot be your spouse, anyone in the Will, nor a spouse of anyone who is named in the Will. Typically, if you are self-isolating this will be with a partner, children etc who are likely to be beneficiaries in your Will and so they cannot be witnesses.

There are ways to have the Will witnessed whilst practising social distancing and good hygiene. The crucial thing is that all parties are present whilst the act of signing and witnessing of the Will takes place and have an uninterrupted line of sight. The witnesses could be some distance away perhaps over the garden fence or down the driveway. Everyone should use their own pen and preferably wear gloves. Our Wills are bound with a plastic front and back sheet which can be wiped down if necessary, as an extra precaution. As additional reassurance, when restrictions on movement and social distancing are lifted, we are offering an invitation to come into the office to go through and re-sign your Will with a solicitor present.

Our offices may be closed to clients, but we are very much open for business in as normal a way as we can make it. Our friendly and approachable team are available to provide advice and assistance by telephone, email, conference calls and video conferencing.

For more information contact Jane Burbidge in our Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts department via email or phone on 0333 207 1130. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts department here

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