Making a will is the only way you can be in control of where your money, property and other assets go when you die and is probably the most important financial decision you will make in your lifetime. If you do not make a will, your assets will be distributed in accordance with the strict rules of intestacy, and this is unlikely to be what you have wished for.
Making a will is quite straightforward, but the restrictions that have resulted from the COVID lockdowns and tiers have led to certain complications and we have changed our processes to ensure that we continue to offer a professional and expert service to our clients.
Witnessing a will safely during COVID-19
Under normal circumstances, we would meet our clients face-to-face and we appreciate that many people prefer that. However, as our offices are closed to the public at present, we can take your instructions via video link, using Skype, Microsoft Teams, Facetime or Zoom, where we can still work in a face-to-face manner, or by telephone, and both are working well. We will communicate with you by email as much as possible, but where we need to post out information or receive it by mail, we can do that. Once we have fully understood your needs and you have approved the will draft, we can offer various ways of obtaining your signature and that of your witnesses.
We can post out your will so that you can obtain the necessary witness signatures and you can post this back to us. Please remember that witnessing your will correctly is vital to ensure that it is valid. You need two independent witnesses, who must be over 18 years, must not be a beneficiary (or spouse/partner of a beneficiary) of your will and must both be present when you sign your will. If a beneficiary or spouse/partner of a beneficiary acts as a witness, the will becomes invalid. We also recommend that you do not use family members as witnesses as these are not strictly independent. Under current restrictions, you may, therefore, find it difficult to obtain appropriate witnesses. Graysons’ private client experts can help you to witness your will correctly. We can attend your property with two staff. We will put your will on your doorstep and move away to a distance where we can still see you retrieve and sign it. Once you have signed the will, we will ask you to put the will back on the doorstep and go back inside whilst we retrieve it and move away. Once we have moved away, we will ask you to come back to the door where you can see us sign to witness your signature. We can also carry out this process through a window, over a wall or in any outdoor space, etc. Of course, we minimise handling of the will, wear masks, always stay two meters apart and never share pens.
If you need to make a will, don’t wait, contact our experts now. We will make all the necessary arrangements to ensure that your will is drafted, signed and witnessed quickly and in a COVID safe way. You can find out more about making a will on our web pages.
Author: Katie Birch, private client advisor.