30th MARCH 2020
In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, and its drastic effects on social mobility and health in the United Kingdom over the past weeks, many people have rightly thought about making their wills. But as many solicitors’ offices and will-writing services have shut at this time to prevent the spread of the infection, there have been many questions surrounding how this important task can still be completed.
The policy of social distancing also poses problems for a critical part of the will-writing process. That is, the signing of the document by its witnesses. As a will isn’t legally-binding until this happens, it is imperative even under the current circumstances that this goes ahead. Thankfully, with Kwil, there are some ways we can get around this.
According to UK law, a will must be witnessed and physically signed by two independent adults. They cannot be beneficiaries, or married to beneficiaries, and they cannot be blind. Under normal circumstances, work colleagues, neighbours and family members are suitable witnesses. But as the government has instructed citizens to keep to their immediate family units and avoid contact with other people, it is unlikely you’ll be able to reach these individuals without fear of infection or breaking the rules. But there are some solutions.
With regards to your witnesses being able to see you sign the document yourself, you can arrange for your intended witnesses to stand on the other side of a closed window, with some distance between them, and watch as you complete this task. After the use of some hand sanitizer or soap, and using their own pens, the will could then be left on a windowsill or passed through a letter box for your witnesses to add their signatures to the document.
In the current conditions, it is best to choose someone who can get to you easily, is healthy themselves, and is, importantly, not a beneficiary. This could be a neighbour, a friend who lives nearby or a member of your extended family. As long as these individuals demonstrate testamentary capacity, are over 18, not beneficiaries or married to beneficiaries, and are not blind, then they are suitable witnesses.
If you cannot find any witnesses, and your will is subsequently not signed, the document is not legally-binding. In this instance, even if you have fully completed your will, with all its individuals and estate allocations listed, and printed it out, if you die, your wishes will not be valid. Instead your death will be processed via intestacy laws and your estate will divided up according to these rules.
During this difficult time, it is some solace to know that all our assets will be accounted for. And so, even as we find ourselves in this isolation period, time should be found to make a will. Thankfully, Kwil ensures we don’t have to break quarantine or endanger our loved ones whilst performing this important task. We are also still available to answer any questions you might have either on the phone or via the live chat on our website.