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How can you make or amend a Will during the Covid-19 pandemic?

A Will needs to be witnessed by two independent witnesses to be valid. With social-distancing measures in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, are there new guidelines in place for witnessing valid and legally binding Wills?

Can I still make a will?

Absolutely – yes.

Browells’ Wills and Probate team have developed creative methods for ensuring new and updated Wills are valid at this critical point in time.

Do you have appointments available?

We are doing everything possible to ensure our clients are receiving expert legal advice at this uncertain and critical time.

We are providing same-day telephone or video conferencing appointments for all enquiries regarding Wills and Estate Administration to give you that peace of mind as quickly as possible.

What options are there for signing and witnessing a Will while practising social distancing?

The safest method for signing a Will and having two witnesses present is either from a distance or through a window.

For the safety of all parties, we recommend that each person:

  • Uses your own pens
  • Stands two metres apart at all times
  • Wears glove
  • And washes their hands beforehand and afterwards.

Browells’ Wills and Probate team have found that the following two methods are the safest options for witnessing the signing of a Will:

  • Placing the documents on a car windscreen and taking turns signing the Will
  • Witnessing the signing of a Will through a window by leaving it on the windowsill or passing it through a letterbox

Provided that all three parties witness the signing, it will meet the requirements of the law.

Parties should also make sure to keep file notes regarding the process and video record where possible.

How do I choose who will witness my Will?

You need two independent witnesses in order to ensure your Will is valid.

They must be over 18 years of age and they cannot be the executor or a beneficiary of your Will. Spouses or civil partners of your beneficiaries should also not act as witnesses. You can have witnesses who are otherwise related to you or the beneficiaries but not mentioned in your Will, however, to avoid any problems invalidating the gifts in your Will, it is preferable to have completely independent witnesses.

Due to the fact that non-essential travel is not advised, it’s best to ask local neighbours to act as the two independent witnesses. The witnesses can be related to each other, so it is perhaps safest to ask a nearby neighbour and their spouse under the age of 70 years, to limit the social distancing and protect vulnerable members of society.

It’s important to note that your witnesses do not need to read the full Will for their signature to be valid. They merely need to sign the attestation page, which is often at the back of a Will. This allows you to protect the information within if you don’t feel comfortable sharing the details of your Estate.

Are probate solicitors key workers?

Yes. The government announced that solicitors acting in connection with the execution of wills and solicitors and barristers advising people living in institutions or deprived of their liberty are classed as key workers.

Keeping the justice system running during the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis is vital. The government acknowledged that legal practitioners are fundamental to achieving this aim.

All of Browell Smith & Co’s legal services are still available by telephone or video appointments, including Family Law, Personal Injury, Medical Negligence and Conveyancing.

Why choose Browell Smith & Co for your Wills solicitors?

Our Probate team was already ahead of the curve when it comes to having the technology and systems in place to effectively work from home while keeping all data secure, and we pride ourselves on our empathetic, concise probate services.

Our fixed price for Wills is highly competitive and there will be no unexpected costs. We’re always transparent when it comes to legal costs and will offer you a clear outline of the pricing and process.

Our fixed-fee, tailored Wills package includes:

  • Listening to you and taking your full instructions
  • Advice tailored to your personal circumstances
  • Drafting your will
  • Attending upon you to explain your will
  • Advising on how to ensure that your will is signed and witnessed correctly, legally and safely
  • Safe storage of your will
  • Will registration service with Certainty – the National Wills Register

Browell Smith & Co is the leading solicitor’s firm in the North East and are here to support you in these uncertain times.

The most important thing is to look after yourselves, your families and everyone else in society. Remember these measures have been put into place to save lives, so do not take unnecessary risks.

Contact our expert team today to arrange a no-obligation chat or telephone our wills team directly on 0191 250 3220 to discuss your particular requirements.

 

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