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Coronavirus: writing a will without witnesses

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Many people are taking the opportunity to think about having a will put in place or to revisit one that they already have.

Under legislation, there are a number of requirements for wills to be held to be valid but the one that is challenging us most at present is the one that requires two independent witnesses to witness the signature of the person making the will and  for that person to see the two witnesses sign.

Potential easing of the rules?

Isolation, self-isolation and social distancing are all challenging the way in which this can be adhered to  - if at all.
Talks are being held with the Ministry of Justice to see if there can be an easing of the rules, whilst ensuring that the position cannot be abused by people taking advantage of the person making the will. Some element of protection still needs to be retained.

This could include not requiring witnesses; witnessing by more remote means i.e. video link; or provisions that mirror the way in which those serving in the armed forces can make a will.

An 1837 act allows for “privileged wills” for members of the armed forces to make either a written or an oral will and, if written, there is no requirement for witnesses.

In the meantime, it is important that if you are going to make a will you do so with the proper thought and regard to it that you would otherwise have given it at any other time. 

More information

For more information regarding potential changes in legislation following COVID-19 contact our expert listed below.

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