Signing Wills During the Covid-19 Pandemic

vienna 90Orlando Beckett, our Wills, Trusts and Estates specialist, answers some common questions being asked by clients about how best to execute Wills during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Does the testator still have to sign the Will in the presence of the witnesses during the Covid-19 Pandemic?

The testator must sign the Will in the presence of two or more witnesses who must all be present at the same time.

Have the rules relating to the signing of Wills been changed due to the Covid-19 Pandemic?

It may not always be possible, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, for the witnesses to be physically present when the testator signs the Will. Temporary changes have been made to the law to allow the witnesses to be virtually present if they cannot be physically present.

Can a testator sign a Will in the presence of witnesses who are virtually present?

For a Will to be validly executed in the presence of virtual witnesses, the witnesses must be able to see the testator sign the Will in real time. Ideally, the process should also be recorded and the recording retained to help deal with any suggestions of impropriety in the future.

There are also other specific requirements which must be followed if the Will is to be signed in the presence of virtual witnesses. These temporary rules are complicated and the Will may be invalid if they are not properly followed.

What is the best way to sign a will during the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Given the complexity of the temporary rules which permit the use of virtual witnesses, unless there is a good reason to make use of these rules, the traditional way of signing a Will in the physical presence of two witnesses may continue to be the most practical way forward for most people.

The law requires the witnesses to have “a clear line of sight” whilst the testator is signing the Will. Whilst observing social distancing measures during the Covid-19 Pandemic, witnesses may observe a testator signing the Will through, for example, a window or an open door of a house or car or, perhaps, from a short distance away in a garden.

How Can Vienna Kang Advocates help?

At Vienna Kang Advocates we recognise that the making of a Will is an emotional experience. Our Wills, Trusts and Estates specialist, Orlando Beckett, will discuss your intentions with you in a sensitive way and ensure that your Will accurately records your wishes. Whether you sign your Will in the presence of physical or virtual witnesses, we will ensure that all the correct steps are taken to ensure that it is validly executed.

In addition to seeing Clients within our offices, Orlando is also pleased to meet Clients in their homes, in hospitals or nursing homes.

For more information or to book an appointment, please call Orlando on 0121 726 9116 or email him O.beckett@viennakang.co.uk.