Article by Julie Sheldrake, Wills Trusts and Probate Solicitor at Clapham & Collinge LLP.

The legal press and law firms are full of headlines around the changes coming into force related to the ‘virtual’ signing of Wills. Julie Sheldrake, Private Client Solicitor based in our North Walsham office, takes a realistic look at the changes coming ahead, what they mean for you and the approach that Clapham and Collinge Solicitors are taking.

Covid-19 has brought into sharp focus the subject of death and dying. We are faced, more so than ever, with our mortality.

One of the most responsible matters that we can attend to is to have a Will in place. Not simply ‘the Will we did 25 years ago and can’t quite remember exactly where it is’, but a Will that is up-to-date and can easily be located on death.

The best way for this to be dealt with is for a Solicitor or Legal Executive who specialises in this area of law to deal with this for you. It should always be remembered that the word ‘lawyer’ can be adopted by anyone, without any legal qualifications. Be very aware and always check out the qualifications of your ‘lawyer’.

The restrictions of Covid-19 have meant that meeting our clients to prepare their Wills in the usual way has been disrupted. Zoom, WhatsApp and Facetime calls have become our ‘new norm’, alongside socially distanced face-to-face meetings. As a firm, Clapham and Collinge Solicitors have managed to ensure that our clients have had access to all forms of contact with their Solicitor or Legal Executive – be it real time or virtual – throughout the pandemic.

The law has now caught up with the reality of signing Wills in lockdown. This is due to the fact that more people have sought to make wills during the Covid-19 pandemic. For some people shielding or self-isolating it is extremely challenging to follow the normal legalities of signing a will. Those legalities are that two persons should witness the Will signing, with all being in each other’s physical presence (the person making their Will, Witness 1 and Witness 2).

For those Wills signed from 31st January 2020 the ‘presence’ of those making and witnessing wills will include a virtual presence, via video-link, as an alternative to physical presence. There are exceptions but these would be advised at our initial client meeting.

The law will be effective from 31st January 2020 and up to 2 years from the changes coming into force (i.e. until 31 Jan 2022). Of course, with so much uncertainty around Covid-19, there is every possibility that this could be extended.

However, whilst the new approach offers flexibility, The Ministry of Justice still advises that the conventional route should be followed where at all possible. Clapham and Collinge Solicitors are open to the new and necessary way of working, but wherever possible will stick with the established way of signing your Will. Whilst a Will could be sufficiently witnessed through a window or open door of a house or vehicle, from a corridor or adjacent room with the door open or outdoors in a garden, or now via video-link, we will always endeavour to meet with our clients wherever possible, adhering to full government guidelines. Only when that option has been discounted will be look at alternate means – with the new law behind us.

Remember – where there is a Will there is a potential argument. Protect yourself and everything you have worked for to ensure your wishes are followed.

For more information on the services Clapham & Collinge offer, or to book an appointment, please call 01603 693500, email [email protected] or visit www.clapham-colling.co.uk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

Menu