I’ve been contacted by a couple of clients who primarily due to their age or the existence of underlying health conditions, are either self-isolating or practicing extreme social distancing.
Ordinarily, a Will would be executed in the presence of two independent witnesses. Usually, you’d all be in the same room. What can you do if you don’t want to invite your witnesses into your home because you are self-isolating, or for the same reason can’t come into the office?
If we exclude the options of putting off signing (for what I hope to be obvious reasons) or getting someone who lives with you to sign (that would mean they can’t benefit from the Will) then we are left with a couple of options.
In any event, you will need two independent witnesses. The Wills Act 1837 doesn’t specify a minimum age for the witnesses, but we would advise that they are over 18.
Option 1 – Through a Window
As long as both of your witnesses can see you sign your Will, there is no reason that they need to be in the same room as you. You would need to arrange for:
- your witnesses to be positioned on the other side of the window, clearly able to see you sign;
- for you to sign your Will;
- to pass your Will to your witnesses (or perhaps push it reverse-way out of the letterbox); and
- for them (ideally bringing their own pens) to both sign as witnesses.
It would be helpful if they can send it back to us for you, as we don’t really want them to have to push it back through the letterbox!
Option 2 – At Your Direction
It is also possible for someone to sign your Will, on your behalf, at your direction. This has always been useful where someone is for example, physically unable to hold a pen (perhaps due to physical mobility issues).
In this case, you need three volunteers – two witnesses (as before) and one person to sign on your behalf. Again, you can do this through a Window if you prefer. We would need to amend your Will so that it is clear that it is being signed “at your direction”.
It would be important to be clear that the Will being signed is the one you intend to sign, but once this is established, and your two witnesses and signing volunteer are present:
- you ask your signing volunteer to sign your Will;
- they sign your Will for you (signing their own signature) in the presence of both witnesses; and
- for your witnesses to then both sign.
If you have any concerns about making, signing or updating your Will, we are here to help. Our Private Client team is primarily working from home at this time, but we will ensure an office presence as necessary and will happily hold meetings via phone or Skype. Just let us know if you have any questions.
Don't let self-isolation stop you from signing your Will!