In the current climate during Coronavirus, an increasing number of people are reviewing their Will, or looking to create a Will.
One of the most important aspects of a Will is ensuring it has been signed and witnessed correctly, without this, the Will either cannot be processed and registered or it can be declared invalid at a later stage.
The witnessing and signing of a Will at the moment may need to be handled slightly differently.
Make sure you execute the Will safely and correctly.
For a Will to be legally valid, it must be signed in person, in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign the Will.
Who can act as a witness?
You need two witnesses. The Will can not be witnessed by a beneficiary or one of their family members as this could be a conflict of interest or undue influence, plus the beneficiary will also lose the benefit due to them.
Both witnesses must be independent of you and your beneficiaries.
What you can do within social distancing guidelines.
In order to stay safe with distancing guidelines and to execute your Will properly, there are the following suggestions:
Contact two neighbours to ask if they are willing to witness the signing of your Will. Agree a date and time to meet in front of your home. We suggest that you each use your own pen and wear gloves for added protection.
Keep a safe (2m) distance between you but make sure that you all have a clear view of each other and the Will throughout the signing process.
When you are ready, sign your Will in the designated space, using your usual signature; it is good practice to initial each page of the Will. Date the Will where indicated – usually above your signature and on the front page.
Leave the Will on a suitable surface (such as a garden table, wall or car bonnet) and walk away, allowing the first witness to step forward. The first witness should sign the Will under your signature and print their name, address and occupation, where indicated. If you have initialed each page, the first witness should do the same, next to your initials. Both you and the second witness must watch the first witness sign the Will.
The first witness can then walk away from the Will, allowing the second witness to sign, following the same instructions.
Make sure that you and the witnesses remain close enough (whilst maintaining a safe distance) to see each other sign the Will (and can therefore be classed as being in the presence of one another at the time of signing).
Once you and both witnesses have signed, you can collect your Will and return to your home.
Check the document thoroughly.
Once your Will has been signed by you and both of your witnesses, check it over carefully. If you are unsure of any aspect then just send us a scanned copy so we can double check for you.
Safe and secure storage.
The final version of the Will then needs to be stored safely and securely. Do not staple or attach any other document to your Will in anyway. If it looks like the document has been interfered with, it could be declared invalid at a later stage.
It is recommended you store a copy of your Will at home in a secure manner, and when you can, send the original document through to us so we can provide a fully secure document safe custody service which ensure all your legal documents are safely stored together. It might be an idea to let a family member or friend know where your Will is stored.