Solicitors have seen a dramatic increase in the number of enquiries from people who want to make a new will, review an existing will or require advice on inheritance tax.
‘Will writing is one of those things on people’s to-do lists that they never get round to doing, but the current coronavirus crisis has focused their mind’ said Ian Bond, Chair of the Law Society’s Wills & Equity Committee.
In the current climate of social distancing and self-isolation solicitors are having to find different ways to help people who want to make a new will. Modern technology is of great assistance enabling us to take instructions and give advice using video calling platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Webex, WhatsApp, or by telephone, and using email to send documents to clients.
Wills still have to be signed in person, but the Law Society is in talks with the government about temporarily relaxing some of the rules. Currently the formal requirements for making a will are governed by the Wills Act 1837, one of the first statutes to which Queen Victoria gave her Royal assent shortly after her accession to the throne. The requirements for making a will are that ‘it must be in writing, signed by a testator (or someone else at the testator’s direction) in the presence of two independent witnesses, who also sign the will’.
The act of signing a will would not in itself be a breach of the coronavirus regulations put in place by the Government, because even if it involves a gathering of more than two people (who were not members of the same household), it is ‘reasonably necessary … to fulfil a legal obligation’ (regulation 7(d)(iv) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 UKSI 2020/350).
The real question is whether people are alarmed by the health risk of such a meeting. This is something we at Dixon Alderton Law can mitigate against by coming up with more ingenious ways to assist, for example, the witnesses can stand on a drive way and watch the testator sign through the window and then pass the will to the witnesses to sign. The risks can be minimised further by each person using their own separate pens and wearing gloves.
Alternatively, we can advise you about where your assets go if you die without leaving a will. This is known as dying intestate – in which case the law governs who inherits your estate.
At Dixon Alderton Law we are still providing a comprehensive service and are ready to assist with making wills, inheritance tax planning and making Lasting Power of Attorney documents, and we are also currently offering a 10% discount on our fees for key workers.
We continue to offer a free initial consultation at a time to suit you to give you peace of mind, so please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can use the contact form on this page, or any of the following:
Tel: 01926 563080
Or visit our Facebook page