The last few weeks have seen huge changes in the way we live our lives. The pace has been so fast that many are struggling to keep up with events.
How to make a will and adhere to social distancing
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis has caused a surge of interest in making and updating wills. Here at David Gray Solicitors we are able to respond to that demand. Our “virtual office” remains open and our staff are able to home work effectively. We are able to take instructions from clients via telephone, Facetime and Zoom instead of the conventional face to face meeting. Drafts can still be sent via email or via post. We suggest that before your first “meeting” with us you prepare as much as possible, think about what questions you want to ask, put together a list of your assets and finances, think about those that you wish to include in your Will and those you wish to over see it. We can send you a questionnaire to complete and return in advance. Once approved and agreed final copies can be sent to you for signature.
Social distancing can make it difficult to find witnesses to wills. The Wills Act 1837 states that to be valid a will must be signed in the presence of 2 witnesses so that all 3 – will maker and witnesses – are present together. The crisis has pushed people to be creative in their arrangements. For example wills can be witnessed by neighbours through a window or from the garden gate as long as all 3 are present together and can see each other sign. The witnesses then add their signatures, names and address in case they need to be contacted later to prove the signing of the will. Everyone would need to use their own pen and perhaps wear gloves.
Solicitors for the Elderly and the Law Society are pushing the government to pass emergency laws to relax the witnessing rules. Soldiers on active service have long been able to make a Will without witnesses and the law may be changed quickly to extend this privilege to all.
For your ease and comfort you can have your will witnessed outside our Newcastle office at no additional cost every Wednesday. You can drive up (by appointment only), call us and our team will guide you through the process. Social Distancing will be adhered to and PPE will be worn. You can then go home with signed copies of your will and we will store your Will in out strong room for free.
The current times are extraordinary but our drive to do the best we can for our clients has not changed. We remain very much open for business and can continue to offer will writing and advice on linked matters such as Probate, Inheritance tax and Powers of Attorney.