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WILLS and Coivd-19

It’s only natural that in the current times, we are all thinking more about our lives and those of our loved ones – and how they may be protected if we’re not here to look after them. Making a will is one very important consideration in assessing how you can provide for your family and loved ones after death. In fact, the Ministry of Justice has recognised the importance of the will making process at this time, and has designated solicitors who are executing wills as keyworkers.

To a large extent, the formal legalities of making a will during the Coivd-19 crisis are no different from how they have always been, but we’ve had to change how we actually work through some of those legalities in practical terms.

For any new instructions regarding a will, there are likely to be two meetings that would normally take place. First, there is the meeting to take instructions from the client about their will, and the second, shorter meeting to execute the original will once the draft will has been approved.

Due to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020, in most cases it is unlikely that a physical face to face meeting will be able to be carried out unless in the most exceptional circumstances, so Armstrong Solicitors, like the majority of our colleagues in other practices, have been carrying out the initial meetings with wills clients remotely via Zoom or Skype. Largely, this has been a success, although from the solicitor’s point of view, there are a number of safeguards we have to build in to ensure that we are speaking to our clients in private, with no one else being present in the room at the client’s end of the call.  We can help you with making these arrangements.

Perhaps the more complicated aspect of the will at this point in time is how we can make sure that it is properly executed- the second meeting. It’s essential to understand that there has been NO relaxation in the legal formalities around executing a will, and the normal concerns around how the will is witnessed or whether there is undue influence involved are as valid during the Covid-19 crisis (perhaps more so) as they have been at any time up to this point. In the vast majority of cases we feel that the solicitor remains the best person to witness a will, and we have already overseen execution of wills in a number of different situations. We have witnessed wills where clients have remained in their cars in the privacy of our car park, and we have observed from outside the car. We are aware of colleagues who have remained outside the client’s home while supervising and witnessing execution through the window; there is case law which suggests that witnesses could be in a different room with direct line of sight of the person signing, and finally, in some cases if there is no practical way that a solicitor can witness the will, we can give clients very detailed instructions about how to get their will witnessed, although for the witness to be fully independent, we think that the Regulations on social distancing will have to be relaxed.

The important thing to bear in mind however is that if you want to make a will and/or an enduring power of attorney at this point, we can help you to do so and take at least that worry away from you. It may be a little less convenient than usual, and the practicalities may be a little more complicated, but we can do it, and we will help you to feel confident that you have provided for your loved ones.

Call us now on 02890855955, email at hello@armstrongsolicitors.com or request a callback at the bottom of this page.