Given the social distancing measures in place, is it possible to make or update a Will during the coronavirus pandemic? Sarah Cornish, Partner and Head of Coodes Solicitors’ Wills, Probate and Trusts team, outlines the practicalities.
The restrictions that have been in place to slow down the spread of coronavirus are impacting on all areas of life. Many of our clients have been in touch to ask us if they can still make a Will, or update an existing Will.
Our team has been working had to put into place the necessary steps to ensure that taking instructions for and processing Wills can seamlessly continue. While we have had to adapt some of our usual practices, the overall process remains the same. Crucially, we will continue to provide exactly the same level of expertise and approach every Will with the high standards of ethics and professionalism to which we always adhere.
Can I get advice on my Will, given the social distancing measures now in place?
We usually meet face to face with clients to take instructions for a new Will or to discuss updating an existing Will. However, because of the social distancing rules we are using email, telephone and video calls instead. This involves arranging a convenient time with you for the appointment and allocating the same amount of time as we would if you were coming into the office.
We have had a number of these appointments since the restrictions were introduced. It is working well and we can still discuss everything we would cover in a face-to-face meeting.
When you contact Coodes to make an appointment, we will take some details from you and send you a questionnaire which covers everything you need to consider when making the Will. We will ask you to complete and return the questionnaire by email so we can review it prior to our appointment. If that is not possible, please do not worry – we can simply talk through the questionnaire to gather the information we need.
How will I review and approve the draft Will?
Once we have drafted the Will, based on our discussion with you, we can then either email or post it to you for you to review along with a summary of the provisions contained within the Will. When you have read through the Will, you will need to contact us to let us know if you wish to make any alterations and amendments. We will then arrange the final Will ready for signature to come to you.
This is, in fact, exactly the same process as we would follow in usual circumstances.
Does my Will signature still need to be witnessed when social distancing measures are in place?
A number of clients are asking whether it is possible to sign a Will and if they still need it to be witnessed, given the social distancing measures now in place. To be legally binding and provide protection against fraud, a Will signing must be witnessed by two people. News reports suggest the Law Society is in discussion with the Government about a temporary relaxing of these rules, but for now they are remain in place.
We have a plain English set of instructions that we will send to you with the Will along with guidelines on how to arrange the signature in your own homes, using friends or neighbours as witnesses, while adhering to the social distancing rules.
Since the social distancing measures were introduced, we have successfully arranged a number of Will signings for our clients.
Are you still able to store my Will?
Once your Will has been completed, we are happy to store it free of charge.
So, from start to finish, we can complete the whole process without you having to step into any of our offices.
The coronavirus pandemic is a fast-changing situation and we will continue to update you if any of this changes. Our focus is to ensure we continue to offer our clients the very best service and expert advice.
If you would like our advice and guidance in writing or updating a Will then please contact us through our website or call 0800 3283282.