In these challenging and uncertain times our solicitors are coming up with novel and interesting ways of ensuring we can still provide our wills service to clients as safely as possible, as Claire Clarke, Wills Trusts and Probate Associate at Hegarty Solicitors explains
Even though we are all being asked to keep our distance, the current law still requires a Will to be signed in the presence of two witnesses to be valid. However, this presents a challenge when we must all do our bit to stay away from one another! Over the past few weeks our solicitors have improvised. From signing and witnessing Wills over the garden fence to a makeshift office on a client’s driveway, there have been a number of unusual ways we have ensured our clients have an up-to-date and valid Will. We recognise that it is, perhaps, as important as ever to ensure that you haveaWill in place to ensure your estate passes in accordance with your wishes on your death and your existing arrangements are up to date. Equally, it is important to ensure that your Will is valid and meets your requirements.
As you will see, we may not currently be able to follow the traditional route, but it is still possible to prepare Wills and obtain bespoke advice as needed from a qualified solicitor. We can send you the Wills with instructions on how they should be signed. In order to keep both yourselves and your witnesses as safe as possible, the documents may be signed whilst your witnesses watch through the window and then handed to them through the letterbox to do likewise whilst you watch them.
Alternatively, you might prefer to sign in the garden or over the garden wall, for example, so that social distancing might be observed. You can then return the documents to us and we will check the completed documents are in order and place in the firm’s securities. If necessary, we can assist with a home visit if you are unable to arrange witnesses yourself. Our solicitors are coming up with some unusual, but workable, solutions to these extraordinary circumstances. Abigail Mehta, Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitor says: ‘We have adapted to find new ways to witness sign Wills. I have witnessed a Will over a garden fence! Luckily the gentleman was tall enough so that we could see him sign the document.’ Karon Walton, Head of Court of Protection adds: ‘Myself and colleague Martin Banwell recently visited a client’s home and spoke through a window to read over the Will. The client was in her living room and Martin and I were on the driveway.
The Will was handed over in a plastic folder through the window in order for the client to sign and both Martin and myself had gloves on. A table was provided for Martin and I to sign the Will on and we all had separate pens. The client was able to view us sign outside and we could see her sign through the window. Needless to say, this is the first time we have witnessed and signed a Will on a driveway!’ Clients should not be put off making or updating their Will at this time, as although we cannot arrange face-to-face appointments at the office or home visits as we would normally, we can use telephone calls or video conferencing to take your instructions. Assuming there are no capacity issues, we can arrange a convenient appointment to discuss your requirements and then send you a draft Will for approval by post or email. We can then go through this with you again by telephone if needed, to ensure you are happy and to explain the contents to deal with any queries or concerns you may have.
If you are thinking about making or updating your Will, please contact Hegarty Solicitors today by emailing or by visiting www.hegarty.co.uk