These are unprecedented and challenging times and the number of deaths of huge concern. Most of those who have sadly lost their lives are over 65 or had underlying health conditions, although not all, with a number being much younger than this and with no health concerns.
Whilst it is a very sensitive subject it is no surprise that there has been an increase in the number of people looking to put their affairs in order.
It is important that individuals can access the right advice and ensure they can put their wishes into place despite the current difficulties. The law around making wills is old and governed by the Wills Act 1837. The requirements under the Act currently presents some logistical difficulties; to make your will legally binding you and your two chosen witnesses must physically sign the document with a wet signature and you all have to be physically present at the same time. With rules around social distancing looking to be around for some time then this can pose a number of challenges.
We have been finding innovative way to ensure that we can do this and have witnessed will signings through windows and in gardens; fortunately we have had lovely weather to accommodate us! We are offering face to face appointments for the signing of the will, but naturally not everyone will feel comfortable with this.
While the Government has been lobbied to relax the rules, it looks like there will be no change. We will continue to adopt to make this safe. We can take instructions remotely via methods like Zoom or telephone and can send the draft wills by email or post for you to check. We can then agree a method for signing that you are comfortable with. The rules make it challenging, but it is in no way impossible.
Even individuals with the most straightforward of estates need to ensure they have a valid will; I have seen many cases where a simple shelf-bought will has led to a multitude of costly issues.
We are all learning to adapt and be flexible in these difficult times and I guess that can only be a good thing!