Law firms across the UK have been reporting an increasing number of people enquiring about making a Will since the UK’s Stay at Home measures were announced last month, limiting the circumstances in which any of us can leave our homes.
Coupled with the requirement for a Will to be witnessed in person by someone who is not a beneficiary, because beneficiaries otherwise lose their share, this had led to a range of methods of obtaining witnesses’ signatures from a distance, including the use of car bonnets, in front gardens or through windows.
However, in England and Wales, a Will witnessed using video calling would not be valid.
More difficult, however, has been the practice of death-bed Wills, where a Will is made in front of a lawyer in hospital at the end of someone’s life or where there is doubt as to whether they will survive. Visiting restrictions in hospitals have largely ruled this out for Coronavirus patients and those with other conditions.
These challenges have prompted discussions between the Ministry of Justice and the Law Society about what alternative arrangements can be put in place while allowing people to maintain social distancing.