- - Standing inside your house whilst your witnesses stand outside, watching you sign, and passing the Will through the letterbox and watching through the window as the witnesses sign, with the Will passed back through the letterbox.
- - Sitting or standing near a park bench or camp table or car bonnet or similar with witnesses nearby, and rotating so each approaches the bench, table or bonnet individually to witness the will;
- - Getting neighbours to witness and sign the Will from the safety of their own gardens (provided that you and each witness can see each other sign the Will);
- - Keeping on opposite sides of the same room, but the safety of doing this depends on its size and the vulnerability of the individuals involved.
How do I get people to witness my will safely?
A Will is not valid unless it is witnessed correctly. A person creating a Will and two witnesses need to be in the same place and all sign the document to ensure it is legally valid.
The current lockdown and social distancing restrictions are making this a practical challenge, especially as witnesses must not benefit from the Will, which often rules out people living in the same household. If one of them were to witness the Will, they risk losing any legacy or inheritance left to them in the Will.
We have seen a surge in demand for advice on how to witness wills. The following are our recommended options for Will signing that take account of the Public Health England two metre social distancing guidelines:-
To ensure the well-being of all involved, it is best to use separate pens and ideally use gloves and hand sanitisers where possible.
As you can see, there are a number of ways and means that can be used to ensure your Will can be signed and witnessed under lockdown.
COVID-19 has changed the world in a completely unprecedented way, but this should not stop you preparing your Will and ensuring it is properly executed – it is after all essential for people to have a Will to ensure that their wishes are carried out.
The coronavirus outbreak has sparked a dramatic rise in people making Wills, and we have seen a 350 per cent increase in demand for our Wills since the lockdown was announced, as people seek to put their affairs in order.
We are very much open for business, and following all necessary precautions for the health and safety of our staff. We are working seven days a week, and are available to answer any queries by email or phone.
We do not do house visits, so there is no need for any direct contact.
We’re in this together and let's remember to stay safe, stay protected.
Will it always be as hard as this?
We have lobbied parliament and the Ministry of Justice to find 'common sense' ways to loosen current rules, which date back to the Wills Act of 1837, requiring two witnesses to be physically present at the signing of a will.
One day in the future electronic signatures and/or video witnessing may be appropriate, but not for the time being. Any changes need to be thought through and discussed carefully, as it will be hard to simply overturn almost 200 years of legal precedent. Also, after a temporary change, due to emergency legislation, it will be difficult to argue we should go back to the Victorian era.