Will Writers Designated Key Workers
Despite restrictions imposed because of remote working, the industry is committed to embracing its key worker status. Together with our partners and colleagues, Sussex Will Writers are sharing some of the good practice we are putting in place in extremely challenging circumstances.
We have already adopted a remote working practice and can communicate with our clients over the telephone, via video conferencing applications (including Apple FaceTime and What’s App video calls) as well as making use of email.
We’ve seen a larger number of queries and are working hard to service them.
Measures to Arrange Witnesses and Signing of Your Will
One of the main challenges (as highlighted by the recent article from Today’s Wills and Probates) is how we can assist our clients in arranging their own witnesses for signing their Wills.
We are suggesting to clients that they could sign their Will in the garden, asking their neighbours to witness over the fence or through a window. If clients can only get one witness, we are offering to visit clients to witness on the driveway or doorstep, exercising social distancing and following government guidelines. Everyone should use their own pen and preferably wear gloves.
Our Wills are bound with a plastic front and back sheet which can be wiped down if necessary, as an extra precaution. Once restrictions are lifted and we can see clients face to face, we are inviting clients to meet with us if they wish to go through and sign the Will, as an additional reassurance.
When it comes to the signing of a valid Will the rules around having two witnesses present at the same time, are also proving particularly challenging in light of government advice and social distancing.
With electronic signatures not being an option (at least for the time being) and until further specific guidance is issued, we are also advising our clients who wish to make a Will to follow the legal requirements as far as possible as well as returning a separate document along with their Will which confirms that:
- They understand the Will fully and that it reflects their instructions and intentions.
- They have told their witnesses that they have read and understood the contents of their Will and have signed and dated it in front of both witnesses, who both saw them sign it.
- There are no errors, omissions or spelling mistakes in the Will. If there are, that they and their witnesses have put their initials besides any changes in each other’s presence.
- Both witnesses have signed in front of them and printed their full names, address and occupations below their signatures.
- Neither of their two witnesses, their spouse or civil partner, are a beneficiary of their Will and that they are over 18.
The above statement could be shown as evidence if there was a challenge of the validity of the Will and would help in establishing the circumstances surrounding it.
At this very difficult and distressing time, we are keen to help make the process as simple as possible, whilst at the same time observing Will formalities in relation to testamentary capacity and execution.
Here at Sussex Will Writers we are always happy to speak with you about any of your concerns and to offer guidance on how best to navigate these difficult circumstances and maintain the legal integrity of your wishes.
Remote Working during the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic
We can carry out consultations, make changes to existing Wills and arrange instructions for new Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Trusts over the telephone and Internet during this time.
Sussex Will Writers wish you all the best for the next few months ahead.
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Advising on Wills/Trusts/Probate/Powers of Attorney
Mobile: 07734 744886
Office: 01903 533681
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Steve Worsfold has been an Affiliate Member of the Society for 15 years.