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The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has affected many different areas of life, causing ill health, unemployment and financial troubles for many people. However, for some people, an urgent need to have their Will finalised has, until recently, been impossible. The lockdown, shielding and social distancing measures put in place by the government have stopped people being able to sign Wills in accordance with the Wills Act 1837.
The government has recently attempted to tackle this issue by introducing new legislation. This recognises that an ever-increasing number of people have attempted to make Wills, during the COVID-19 pandemic, but have been unable to follow the legal requirements (for it to be witnessed by two independent people in their physical presence).
The Wills Act is being temporarily amended to state that the witnesses can be ‘virtually present’. This means that we can set up a video conference, with a testator and two members of our team in order to have your Will witnessed. We are required to see the testator hold up the Will, and watch them sign where indicated. The Will can then be posted back to us, for us to sign at the office as soon as possible.
This legislation is in place until 31 January 2022 in recognition of the long term effect the pandemic will have on our everyday lives, and to best support those that are isolating or shielding.
At Pepperells, we understand that we are currently in a difficult and challenging year, however times like this highlight how very important it is to have a valid Will in place. If you have any queries, or wish to discuss making a Will, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Private Client department on 01482 326511.
Please note that our offices are open for appointments if you would prefer to see a solicitor face to face, and are able to attend the office, and all social distancing measures are being adhered to.