Writing a will during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown

Coronavirus – COVID 19

Writing a will…

No-one could have predicted the present situation with the UK under lock down due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Many legal firms, included our own, have seen an increase in requests to amend or write new wills. So, should you be writing a will?

These are unprecedented times and in the legal field we are facing challenges in terms of writing new and updating existing wills. With social distancing being an absolute necessity, this means that rather than face-to-face meetings where we:

  • Take your instructions,
  • Assess that you are fit to make decisions i.e. mental capacity,
  • Make sure that you are not being pressured to make changes or decisions i.e. undue influence,

we are looking to offer the following alternatives:

  • Telephone discussions
  • Skype
  • Facetime or suitable alternative.

We are waiting to hear from our governing bodies in relation to how wills can be signed and witnessed during this crisis. This may mean that consideration is given to electronic signatures but at this time we have not had any further guidance.

The concerns about writing a will have been highlighted in a recent bbc news article.

Hospital visits

Most hospitals including Airedale NHS Trust have suspended visiting (26.03.2020) so we will need to carefully consider the options for updating or creating new wills if you are currently on a ward. Again, we will try to offer alternative options but because of the lock-down restrictions we may have to tell you that we are unable to assist at this time.

Current Law – witnessing the will

Currently, the law requires that each signature is witnessed by two independent people i.e. not family members.

Possible solutions:

  • That the will is left in your garden or suitable outdoor place on your property or
  • The will is passed via a window then,
  • Each witness signs the document using a different pen.

Do I need a will?

The Covid-19 outbreak has made of us consider having a will in place. We would all hope that simply talking about our wishes would be enough. Sadly, the death of someone can bring out not only the best in people but the worse.

A will is your opportunity to make sure that some or all of the following happen:

  • Your funeral, burial or cremation is determined by you
  • You can choose who to leave things to whether they have a financial or sentimental value, or both e.g. jewellery
  • You can decide how to split the value of your ‘estate’ e.g. whether that is left to family, friends or a combination of the two.
  • This is also an opportunity to leave something to your favourite charity, national or local.

Contact us

Of course, we are more than happy to provide further guidance and information over the phone.

You can contact our Wills, Probate and Later Life Planning team on their individual direct dials or by phoning 01535 662644.

If for any reason you are unable to phone us you can email us on [email protected]