The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in an increased demand for wills as part of contingency planning. Whilst understandably clients are keen to make wills quickly it is important that specialist advice is given to ensure that your will meets your objectives in a tax efficient manner and also is drafted to avoid any costly disputes or challenges in the future.
We have many years experience in drafting wills for people in business and we often achieve this via telephone, Skype, Zoom, Facetime and other methods no matter how complicated your affairs or circumstances may be.
Before drafting your will we discuss your circumstances and objectives with you, advise on any tax or family issues and prepare drafts together with an explanatory memorandum setting out the terms and their effect in practice.
Given the practical consequences of the pandemic, the signing and execution of wills has presented some challenging obstacles. Clients who wish to make a will in the current climate should not be put off from doing so as we have identified workable solutions to the challenges in relation to both advising and signing. We will ensure you receive the appropriate level of advice and that the wills are validly executed.
In order for a will to be valid it must be signed in the presence of two independent witnesses. These must witnesses must be:
Over the age of 18;
Not benefit from your will in any way;
Not be the husbands, wives or civil partners of anyone who benefits under your will;
Not to be the Executors or Trustees of your will.
The witnesses must sign their usual signatures and print their names and addresses. The witnesses must witness the will in the presence of you and each other. It is this requirement that has presented difficulties in the “lockdown” period as three people need to be present at the same time.
If you choose to sign a will during the lockdown we have advised that clients should do the following:-
Keep a distance of 2 metres between you and your witnesses;
Use separate pens to reduce the risk of cross contamination;
Consider standing on your/your witnesses doorstep or in the open air when signing;
Wipe your will after signing.
We have found that asking a neighbour to meet in the garden or dealing with the matter over a garden fence or on a car bonnet/windscreen will suffice. All that is required is that the witnesses must be able to see you signing the will and must both be in your presence at the
same time. There is a concern that presence simply through a window may not meet the legal requirements.
In terms of preparing the will we have advised clients to print it out double sided, staple the pages together and then use a hole punch to produce two holes down the left hand side and tie them together with a piece of string. This should provide a way of binding the will in a similar form to that which we would usually produce in the office.
We have also asked clients and witnesses to initial each page of the will (other than the page upon which the execution clause appears) and take a picture of the pages of the will on a phone sending it to us by WhatsApp so we can confirm it has been correctly executed and store a soft copy.
Any clients wishing to make wills in the current climate should be reassured that we can advise and deal with wills as normal.
If you would like to discuss your existing will or to make a new will please contact Jane Shaw: