Lockdown restrictions causing ‘unprecedented’ challenge for will writers

The current rules and restrictions on social distancing and isolation are posing “unprecedented” challenges for will writers and those wanting to get their affairs in order, Ipswich-based law firm, Prettys, has argued.

With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to raise concerns about the nation's health and wellbeing, Prettys has suggested its biggest challenge under the current circumstances is the signing and witnessing of wills in order for them to be deemed valid.

In March, The Telegraph reported that requests for new wills had increased by 30% as elderly and vulnerable people braced for the onset of coronavirus.

Prettys noted that the Ministry of Justice has since recognised the need for a period of relaxed rules, having discussed whether signings and witnessing could take place remotely, via video call technology, which would be an exception to the current requirement for all parties to be present in the room when signing.

The law firm suggested the need for this “becomes even more apparent” for the matter of deathbed wills, as those hospitalised and reaching end of life care with the coronavirus are unable to be with friends and family who would normally act as witnesses.

Partner in the wills, trusts and estates team at Prettys, Emma Woollard, explained how the firm had recently dealt with cases during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The firm has always offered an at-home service whereby they go to clients' houses, if they are unable to come to the office, and this has become the new norm for current signings,” Woolard commented.

“Abiding by social distancing rules and ensuring staff and clients are put at no risk, will signings are taking place through house windows, patio doors, either ends of a drive or corridors long enough to allow at least two metres distance.

“Although it is clear that there is no easy solution, this is an example of how the firm is ensuring clients can get their affairs in order by any means necessary.”

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