Bionic Will Service Overcomes Lockdown Hurdles

February 2021
Mum with Children
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It is an unfortunate fact that the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic inevitably leads people to think about their affairs and the consequence for them and their family if the worst were to happen.

One of those things is ensuring that you have a Will, or if you have a Will that it is up to date. Making sure you have this in place will make things easier for your loved ones should you die. It can also be a means of managing the inheritance tax and other taxes payable on your estate.
The current law dates to the Wills Act 1837. This states that for a Will to be valid it must be in writing, signed by the Testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time. The act of witnessing a Will, including at least three people, none of whom should be a beneficiary or executor. This appears to contravene Government regulations surrounding lockdown.

However, it should be possible for a Will to be witnessed without breaching the Covid 19 guidelines. Case law suggests that the important thing is that the witnesses have sight of the person signing the Will.

What’s more, witnesses do not need to know the contents of your Will. Practical solutions may include signing in the garden and then asking neighbours in the next garden to act as witnesses  or signing in your car, in the sight of the witnesses  outside, would comply with the requirements, without breaching the government guidelines.

While we appreciate the utmost importance of social distancing, we also know how important a Will is and want to help clients be able to get their affairs in order, safely, where possible. We provide a remote will service in conjunction with a firm of solicitors which can be accessed online.

 The first step is to complete an online questionnaire setting out what you wish to achieve with your will. This may include:-

  • Who will inherit your property and savings.
  • The person(s) who will act as your executor and manage your estate before it is distributed
  • What arrangements you wish to make for any minor children to be cared for
  • What is to happen to your pets
  • Legacies and specific gifts you wish to leave
  • Arrangements for your funeral

 A family lawyer will then review your wishes with you, clarify any matters which are unclear and draft a will for you to sign.  They have produced a guide to signing your Will and are there to guide clients through the process via video link or call if required.

Covid 19 Variation 
The Government has now implemented the “The Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Order” which allows for Wills to be witnessed by video conference. This can be used as a last resort but there are still concerns over the person drafting the Will being influenced by someone at the home. Where there are issues of mental capacity being in doubt or coercion this could lead to a challenge of the validity of the will. 

Furthermore, the same document needs to be signed by all parties, meaning potentially numerous video calls, and possibly posting documents backwards and forward. So far, they have managed to ensure all their clients wills are signed remotely without the need to utilise the new legislation but should the need arise are ready to proceed in this way if required.

The solicitors behind our bionic will service are happy to have a chat with you to see if there is an actual need for you to have a Will, or if you already have a Will, ensure that it is valid and does what you require. If a new Will is required, they will work with you to ensure it is validly prepared. To find out more about this service or to discuss your estate planning needs please contact your usual LEBC adviser, email, telephone 0800 055 6585 or click on the link here.

Kay Ingram
Public Policy Director
February 2021

Please remember, no news or research item is a recommendation or advice to buy. LEBC Group Ltd is not responsible for accuracy and may not share the author’s views. The contents of this blog are for information purposes only and do not constitute individual advice. All information is based on our current understanding of taxation legislation and regulations. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, tax advice, wills or trusts.

LEBC’s bionic services enable clients to access services remotely using technology but with access to human and expert input. They are an ideal way to overcome the restrictions on meeting during lockdown while still attending to important matters.  Services offered include wills and powers of attorney, mortgages, life and health insurance and a cash savings platform as well as our PFP portal which offers secure exchange of correspondence and documents.

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