Wills during the Covid-19 pandemic - our answers to your frequently asked questions
Now, more than ever, clients are looking for reassurance and certainty that their affairs are being looked after.
Due to social distancing and the lockdown, we are currently working from home and arranging wills and providing other advice to our private clients over the telephone. We are taking this approach to protect our clients, ourselves and the wider community. It’s working well.
Here, Sue Jull, a Private Client Executive at our Broadstairs office, answers some of the questions we are being frequently asked.
I am in a high risk category and I am unable to leave the house. Can I still make a Will or amend an existing one?
Yes, we can help you. We are regularly advising elderly, vulnerable, and self-isolating clients who wish to amend or make a Will. We will take your instructions for your Will over the telephone or via a video call. Our private client team is working from home and our lawyers are all easily contactable. Calls are being forwarded to mobiles and our lawyers are readily available by email.
Do you have to be a certain age to make a Will?
As long as you are over 18, you can make a Will at any age. Many of our recent new clients have been key workers who previously considered themselves to be too young to be concerned about making a Will.
How are you witnessing Wills during the current crisis?
In line with the government guidelines, our offices are currently closed to visitors. Where we would be seeing clients face-to-face, we are now conducting telephone appointments and video calls.
We appreciate that the signing of your Will may be urgent, particularly if you are elderly, in poor health or if you are a key worker.
Given that we are providing a remote service, we cannot act as a witness for your Will. We will send the final documents to you, along with our advice and clear instructions for its completion.
There are rules on witnessing Wills and this is an area that has been problematic. You might have seen reports about this in the news. Two witnesses must be physically present at the signing of a Will. People are finding various workarounds to make this possible. One recent client of ours left their will on a garden table, for example, and their neighbours then stepped forward to sign at a safe distance using their own pens.
We are not encouraging people to leave their houses and respect the need for everyone to stay at home but if you are not able to find your own witnesses due to social distancing, we can put you in touch with a drive through contactless Will witnessing service that you can use. This is provided by Lindsay Sharp, a Notary Public in Littlebourne, near Canterbury. After discussing this option with us, you will need to make arrangements with Lindsay to witness your Will and pay her directly for the service.
When your Will is returned to us we will check it to ensure that it appears to have been signed correctly. Then when our offices re-open and you are able to visit us, we will be pleased to offer you the opportunity to make a free appointment to sign your Will again in your lawyer’s presence.
Can I change my will?
We are currently receiving a number of enquiries from clients who have already made Wills with us who want to inform us of a change in their circumstances. Your Will can be amended at any time and it is important that it is up-to-date.
Sue Jull’s direct dial number is 01843 269354. If you are not sure who to contact in our private client team, please call our main office in Margate on 01843 234000.