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Rise in the Drive-through Will

View profile for Priyankaa Patel
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There have been practical issues with formalising Wills due to the current Covid-19 crisis. For a Will to be valid in England & Wales, it needs to be signed in the presence of two witnesses at the same time.  The witnesses have to be independent and not related to the writer of the Will.  Due to current social distancing measures, it has proven difficult for those in isolation to prepare their Wills.

The Ministry of Justice is looking into ways in which laws can be relaxed in order to adapt to the current climate.

One of the options may include adopting an Australian style approach, which allows judges’ greater flexibility in determining what constitutes a Will; adopting electronic signatures in relation to Wills and Powers of Attorney and imitating the manner in which member of the armed services can make a Will (orally or without the need for witnesses).

There has been speculation as to whether Wills can be signed and witnessed remotely, for example through Skype or video conferencing apps, an approach which has been adopted in Scotland. Undoubtedly given recent societal changes and modern legal technological advances, the current ambiguity could act as a catalyst for legislative reform.

In the interim, for a Will to be executed correctly in the present circumstances, the witnesses must be able to see the person signing their Will and both witnesses must sign in the person’s presence. All parties must wear gloves and masks and use their own pen.

Harold Benjamin have adapted to the current climate, and we have had clients signing their Wills over their garden fences and in driveways with neighbours acting as witnesses whilst still maintaining social distancing measures. We very much have adopted a “where there is a Will there is a way” approach.

If you would like to discuss preparing a Will, please contact Brindley Meredith in our Private Client department.

Contact our experts for further advice

View profile for Brindley MeredithBrindley Meredith