Witnessing a Will whilst Respecting Social Distancing
During these difficult times, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding public health and safety. Many are worried about the spread of COVID-19 and would like to make a start on the preparations for writing their Will, or would like to consider making changes to an existing Will, but have questions surrounding the Will-making process in light of the Government’s advice to maintain social distance.
Can my witnesses be present via video call? Can my Will be signed electronically?
For your Will to be legally valid, you will need to sign the documentation in the presence of two witnesses, who in turn will also need to sign the documentation in the presence of the Will-maker.
Unfortunately, this process does require that the Will-maker and both witnesses are physically present and in a visible line of sight when the signatures are provided. It is not possible to have your Will validated by witnesses who are virtually present (i.e. via video call), or with a digital signature.
Who can I ask to be my witnesses?
The witnesses for your Will must not be beneficiaries of the Will, nor can they be married to or in a civil partnership with a beneficiary.
With these rules in place, it is unlikely that a witness will currently be residing in the same property as the Will-maker, so many solicitors’ firms across the UK have put additional measures into place so that you may make your Will with reduced risk.
How can I make my Will whilst respecting the government’s advice on social distancing?
The expert team at DRN have been working hard over the past few weeks in order to adapt their processes for the safety and protection of staff and clients.
Whilst the majority of our team members are now working remotely, there are a select few stationed at each of our offices in Burnley, Colne and Ramsbottom, who are on hand to help with services such as writing or making amendments to your Will.
We have now updated the physical work- and public spaces in our offices to include clear screens, reducing the likelihood of any direct contact between our employees and our clients.
Those who are required to visit our offices to provide signatures on any documentation are advised that such visits are available by appointment only – we are not able to grant access to our offices for non-scheduled visits at this time.
Visitors are also advised to maintain a 2-metre distance from any other person at all times. When validating your Will, the Will-maker and both witnesses will each be given the opportunity to provide their signature at a safe distance, but still in the line of sight, of those involved. We would also advise that our visitors:
- Bring their own pen to use;
- Wear protective gloves;
- Make no physical contact with another person;
- Arrive to the appointment on time, and aim to complete the process as quickly as possible;
- Wash their hands before and after signing or handling any documentation.