In the last week, we have seen a rapid move from normality to social distancing and closures of pubs, restaurants, cinemas and gyms. At this firm, we are mostly working remotely and have a presence at the office but in the meantime, we have had many enquiries from clients as to how they can put their Wills in place should the worst happen.
Under the Wills Act 1837, a Will should be executed in the presence of two independent witnesses, but this is becoming increasingly difficult. Witnesses also cannot be beneficiaries otherwise they will lose the benefit which defeats the object of having a Will in the first place and it is highly likely that the people you are living with are those whom you wish to benefit.
For clients in a care home or assisted living flats, they may be able to ask the staff or neighbours to act as witnesses however for those at home, there are two options:
If both witnesses can see you sign your Will and you can see them witnessing, this will be sufficient. You do not necessarily have to be in the same room. Obviously take additional precautions such as using your own pens and washing your hands before and after signing.
This option has always been available for those who physically cannot sign themselves. A special clause will need to be inserted in the Will but in this case, you will need someone to sign at your direction and a further 2 people to act as witnesses. This option may be combined with 1 above.