What options do I have to sign my will whilst shielding or self-isolating?

Wednesday 26th August 2020

The formalities for signing and executing wills date back to 1837: two independent witnesses must be present at the signing of a will and sign their own name and details.

A consequence of the Covid 19 pandemic is that an increasing number of people have sought to make wills, but the rigid laws surrounding execution have caused difficulties for those who are shielding or self-isolating.

In response, the law has been amended so that being “present” at the signing of a will now includes a virtual presence, via video-link.  There are certain formalities that must be complied with, such as the witnesses must see the signing in real time, not a recording, and the execution clause must be amended to reflect that the will was witnessed this way.

This updated law is in place until 31 January 2022, but may be extended or shortened as necessary.

This is undoubtably reassuring for those unable to execute their will in the traditional way, although it may also cause other problems, such as an assessment of the mental capacity of the testator. This is much easier to do in person.

Our advice is that where people can make wills in the conventional way, they should continue to do so and virtual witnessing should only be employed as a last resort. If possible, we advise that one of the virtual witnesses is a professional who can ensure all formalities are properly followed.

We offer socially-distanced home visits, or we can virtually witness a will we have drafted, if required.

If you would like to speak to us about making a will or reviewing your existing will please contact a member of our Private Client team below.