Can I update my Will during this crisis?
The short answer is …. Yes. However, it does come with a number of caveats.
Can I do it in social isolation?
The professional Will Writer still needs to do a full and comprehensive assessment of your needs and requirements which is best done face to face although can be done via Skype, WhatsApp or one of the other video conferencing facilities. This allows the Will Writer to not only take proper instructions but also assess the person requiring the Will (testator) as to whether they have testamentary capacity (they know what they are doing mentally), they are making the Will without undue influence (e.g. no overbearing child forcing their aged parent to make their Will in a certain way) and indeed that the person giving instruction is the person actually making the Will.
Instruction can be taken over the phone if video facilities aren’t available but the professional Will Writer will require additional reassurance to cover the above issues.
Can I get it signed and witnessed?
Yes, but it must be in person.
When the Will has been approved (checked that it does everything you wish without errors) then the problematic part is the actual signing. This is covered by the Wills Act 1837 and some ancient court cases meaning that the signing by the testator must be directly witnessed by the two witnesses who then sign in the presence of the testator. The witnesses shouldn’t benefit from the Will and good practice would have them as not being family members either i.e. wholly independent.
Normally that wouldn’t be a problem but when people are socially distancing or even isolating then this creates additional problems. However, with sensible measures this can be overcome.
If you need any help or advice then I can be contacted via email (email@example.com) or phone (07723621601)
Phil Milton – Member of the Society of Will Writers