Will signing during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Do I need a witness when I sign my Will?

Under the Wills Act 1837 in order for a Will to be valid, amongst other requirements, it must be:

  • Signed by the person making the Will (or signed by a person in their presence and by their direction)
  • The signature must be made in the presence of two witnesses
  • Each witness must also sign the Will in the presence of the person making the Will

How do you correctly sign your Will if you are self-isolating?

Your witnesses must be physically present with you when you sign your Will. This means that signing your Will via video link with your witnesses will not be effective. There are some important things to consider when signing your Will:

  1. You must sign your Will first in the presence of your two witnesses
  2. Both witnesses must both see you and each other sign
  3. You must then see both witnesses sign

It is important to adhere to the current government guidelines whilst signing your Will and both you and your two witnesses must maintain a distance of at least 2m apart at all times. You may wish to consider conducting the signing of your Will outside in an open space or leaving the document on a table so that each person can approach to sign in turn once the others have done so. Witnesses don’t have to enter the house and could view each other signing through a window as long as they have clear sight.

It has been suggested by various health agencies and researchers that coronavirus can live on surfaces for a number of hours, so you and your witnesses may want to consider wearing gloves and using separate pens when signing your Will.

Finally, it is important that any person benefiting under the Will (or their spouse/civil partner) is not a witness. If they act as a witness, any benefit that they receive under the Will, will be invalid.

If you are still unsure please contact your solicitor and we will be happy to talk you through the process.

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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