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Making a will during the Coronavirus

View profile for Leah Woodnott
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Making a will during the Coronavirus

My clients tell me that the current situation has made them think about whether they need to make a will, or whether their current will no longer reflects their wishes. As a firm, we are following government guidance and are now working from home, but we are available to assist, should you wish to write a new will during these unprecedented times.

Preparing your will 

While we would generally wish to meet our clients face-to-face to discuss their requirements, the same appointment can be completed over the telephone or by video call, in order to comply with social distancing.   

An initial meeting involves discussing your requirements for your will. You will need to provide details of your family and those closest to you, so that we may discuss how best to provide for them. You will also need details of your assets, so that we can consider your estate in relation to any potential inheritance tax liability and how we may be able to assist in reducing this.

Appointing executors

For the content of the will, we ask for details of who you wish to appoint to act as your executors. These are the people that will administer your estate and we would generally advise that there should be at least 2 named. We are also able to include:

  • details of your funeral wishes
  • any gifts of money or items that you may wish to make
  • how you wish your remaining estate to be distributed

It is worthwhile thinking about the above beforehand, but during our conversation we may raise points that you had not considered, and any additional details can be provided at a later date. 

Once in receipt of your instructions a draft will is prepared which can be sent to you by post or email. If required, a further appointment can then be arranged so that we may discuss the content of your will, to ensure that you understand everything and that it is in line with your wishes. Following your approval of the draft will, we prepare the final copy of your will, to be sent out for signing. 

Signing your will 

A valid will is required to be signed by the testator (the person making the will), with two independent witnesses present, at the same time. The two witnesses must watch the testator sign the will and then each sign the document. The two witnesses must be independent, meaning they cannot be named beneficiaries in the will, or a close relative to those named in the will, otherwise they risk losing any inheritance due to them. While social distancing, the signing procedure becomes a little trickier than usual.

Signing your will whilst social distancing

Neighbours have been able to assist some of our clients in being their witnesses and through providing clear guidance notes on how the signing procedure is to be completed, they have been able to sign their wills at home, while abiding by social distancing rules, even if this may mean doing so in the garden. If you require further assistance, we can also be on hand via a video call to assist while the signing is being completed.  

Electronic signatures are considered legally binding in relation to most contracts, but they are still not accepted for the provision of signing a will. Video witnessing has also been considered but this is not an accepted work-around - the physical presence of two witnesses is required. Discussions are ongoing as to whether the law regarding the witnessing of wills can be altered during this time, but we shall wait and see… 


I am working from home, but available to talk if you need any further advice on preparing a will. 

If you have a question, I would much rather you ask it and we spend some time having a free chat, than not. I can be contacted on 01206 217609 or leah.woodnott@birkettlong.co.uk.

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