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Due to COVID-19 effecting many businesses, and the way in which we operate, it is important to get clarity on how to make a Will during lockdown.
In order to make a Will valid under section 9 of the Wills Act 1837, in England and Wales, if you are the person making the Will, you are the ‘testator’ and you must:
- Have the will in writing.
- Sign the Will,
- In the presence of two independent witnesses who must also sign the Will
During lockdown the word ‘presence’ has been the centre of importance. In Scotland, they are allowing Wills to be signed and witnessed remotely through Skype or video conferencing. However, that is not possible in England and Wales, due to the strict requirements in section 9 Wills Act 1837.
It is clear through the cases of Brown v Skirrow (1902) and Casson v Dade (1781) that witnessing through windows will be enough to meet the section 9 requirements, equally, the same can be said for all parties involved being in an open area while observing the recommended social distancing.
If the above cannot be done, for whatever reason, then other options include:
- Making lifetime or donation mortis causa (death bed) gift
- Preparing a letter of wishes which, whilst not legally binding, might be expected to be followed by the family after death and/or risking the remote witnessing of a will via technology
A letter of wishes has become a common document that clients are interested in and the Wills team at Bond Adams Solicitors provides this service.
ADVICE FOR THE TESTATORS
If you are elderly or vulnerable, it is important you execute a will or amend a will, without increasing the risk to your health. The best practice is to write a short statement from the witness to accompany the signing so that the circumstances are outlined. This will help to protect the validity in the event of a challenge after death.
As solicitors at Bond Adams LLP, we will retain a full file, with detailed attendance notes, letters of wishes detailing your reasons for exclusion of persons who might otherwise be expecting to benefit and we will obtain a capacity assessment if there are any concerns. Operating from our Leicester head office, you can trust the Bond Adams Solicitors team to handle your case with care and consideration.
Contact one of our team members.