Rachel Jepson-Bennett urges caution in the execution of Wills at a time of social distancing

With the ongoing climate of uncertainty as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase in individuals wanting to make new Wills or update their existing Wills. Putting an up to date Will in place is a sensible step at any time, and particularly so in the current circumstances. The advice of an appropriately qualified professional should always be sought when preparing a Will; strict rules exist which govern the contents, circumstances and signing of Wills, and failing to adhere to them risks having your Will declared invalid.

However the restrictions on movement and gathering in groups imposed in order to combat COVID-19 may be problematic in terms of complying with the statutory requirements for a validly executed and witnessed Will. In order to continue to provide this service we have been in discussions with government and have put procedures in place to ensure that you will be able to sign your Will in a manner which complies with both the requirements for validity and the rules regarding social distancing, whilst minimising the risk to you and your witnesses.

The statutory requirements in creating a valid Will are an important protection against the risk of coercion and exploitation of the vulnerable. The involvement of a professional may prove invaluable in evidencing that the person making the Will was fully informed and understood the bequests they chose to make.

Due to the increased number of Wills being written and the informal manner in which some of them are being prepared, it is likely that one of the consequences of  the current situation will be an increase in the number of disputed Wills. In order to avoid issues arising from your Will, we would encourage you to consult a professional.

It does not matter that our offices are closed and we are unable to meet with you face to face, we will be pleased to speak with you by telephone or video call at your convenience.

If you would like further information about making a new Will or making amendments to your existing Will please do not hesitate to contact us.