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Making or changing your Will under Lockdown
21
April

Making or changing your Will under Lockdown

By: Lisa Morgan

Tags: Private Client, Wills And Probate, Wills

As the UK’s lockdown continues for another three weeks, and  with the likelihood of the restrictions remaining in place for the foreseeable future, the Private Client department at FDC Law have seen an increase of interest in making and updating Wills.

We have put together a short blog to answer the most common enquiries raised as to making or updating your Will during Covid-19.

Can I make a Will during the lockdown?

Yes - you can make a Will during the current lockdown provided there are no issues in relation to your mental capacity to make a Will and undue influence. We are currently taking instructions by telephone, email or video conferencing and can discuss your requirements and any legal implications that may affect your estate including inheritance tax and claims that could be made by those entitled under legislation.

We will send a questionnaire for your completion that will assist you in preparing as much as possible, but we can go through this in more detail at our first telephone appointment.

Once we have your instructions, we will send you a draft Will for your approval via email or post.

I am in a care home – can I make a Will?

If you are in a care home or hospital, it is currently not possible for our team to visit in person due the posed risks involved and the restrictions currently in place. However, this should not prevent you from making a Will provided there are no issues in relation to your capacity and undue influence. We can arrange to speak to you by phone or video call,

Can I make changes to my Will during the crisis or if I am self-isolating?

Yes - provided there are no issues as to your mental capacity or undue influence, we are happy to discuss the changes you would like to make and advise you in producing a Will that confirms your up to date wishes, including those that you wish to include and oversee it.

If you are considering a significant chage  to your Will during the crisis, caution should be exercised, but please do get in touch so that we can explore the reasons why and advise you as to any legal implications. 

Where you are self-isolating, you will need to bear in mind that the Will will need to be signed by you and witnessed by two independent witnesses, to be legally valid. A risk assessed approach should be adopted, to make sure that no-one is put at risk by acting as your witnesses, and we can advise on a case by case basis how to achieve this.

Who will witness the Will?

To ensure the Will is legally valid you must ensure that:

  1. The Will is in writing; and
  2. Signed by you in the physical presence of two witnesses (who should be independent and aged 18 and over); and
  3. Have the Will signed by your two witnesses, in your presence

In other words, the Will must be signed by you (the person making the Will) in the presence of two independent witnesses so that you and the two witnesses are physically present together and can see each other sign. Witnessing the Will via video conferencing is not permitted, as both witnesses need to be physically present.

Usually we would oversee the execution of the Will, but in the current crisis this is not possible. It is vitally important that the two witnesses are not people you want to make gifts to in your will (nor married to those who are receiving anything in the will).

Given the current lockdown restrictions, and to protect you and our staff, we suggest that you contact two suitable witnesses who are outside of the family. This can be your neighbours or friends. The next step is for you to arrange having the Will witnessed safely – that could be for example through a window, or over the garden fence/ gate or even across the road provided this is safe and adhering to social distancing. The essential element is that the witnesses must be able to see you sign, and that you must be present when they sign.

If in doubt, please get in touch with us for further advice.

How can we help?

The coronavirus crisis has clearly led many people to focus their minds on putting their affairs in order, and we are here to guide and support you through the process during these uncertain times. If you have any queries or are worried about making Wills please do get in touch with the Private Client team here.

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