Law Society help in time of Coronavirus crisis
With Private Client solicitors bracing themselves for a busy few months in trying to cope with the ever increasing demands from clients to draft and complete new Wills, the Law Society are in the process of publishing and updating advice regarding Wills and the signing/witnessing of them. So far there is little firm advice but this is changing swiftly and we are hopeful that some legislation will be passed in order to assist our growing numbers of clients who are staying at home but who still need to sign their Wills……the current requirements for signing and witnessing being the need to have two independent witnesses witnessing Wills.
Below is the latest from the Law Society….
We’ve received numerous queries from members about this issue and are actively pursuing a way forward.
We have approached the Ministry of Justice and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) about the legislative and regulatory barriers to executing wills in the current context, including requirements for witnessing wills, and the use of video conferencing facilities.
We will update members once we have received further advice.
Under the Wills Act 1837, it is not permitted to witness a will via video messaging as a witness must be physically present, however it is possible to supervise the signing of a will using electronic means where you are not acting as a witness to the will.
We suggest members ask clients to video record the signing of the will if possible and keep good file notes on how instructions came in and how the will was signed.
The SRA has published guidance, but we’re speaking to them about how this could be changed to give greater clarity for our members.
Ann-Marie Matthews is a solicitor in the private client team at Barker Gotelee, Ipswich Solicitors.