PREPARING A WILL DURING COVID-19

By April 6, 2020 Uncategorized

Can I have a Will prepared or update an existing Will during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Yes!

While staff wellbeing and safety is of absolute importance in these unprecedented times, we can still assist with the preparation of your Will or updating your existing Will, with a little help from modern technology. Our offices are currently closed and staff are working from home with access to our systems and calls diverted to mobiles wherever possible.

How can I provide my instruction?

Although we can’t meet with you face to face, we can arrange a telephone appointment with you to discuss your Wills and take your instruction. To provide proof of identity, we will need you to scan and email your ID to us in the first instance.

We will then prepare your Will/update your existing Will in accordance with your instructions and either email the documents to you or send them out by post (as soon as we possibly can when available staff are in the office). We can then again by telephone, or by email discuss the drafts with you.

How can we deal with signing?

If you are happy with the documents prepared and are happy to sign, we can arrange a video call (via facetime, messenger, whatsapp etc) so that we can see each other face to face, discuss the documents in detail and walk you through the signing formalities.

Do I need to have a witness?

Ideally, if possible, you would have an independent person (who is over the age of 16 and not a member of your family or mentioned in your Will) to be present at the signing meeting, to sign as a witness.

What if no witness is available?

If a suitable witness is not available and able to be physically present when you are signing your Will, we can witness you signing each page via video call such as facetime, whatsapp, messenger etc (provided we physically see you sign each page during the video call). You can then return the signed Will to us by post. On receipt of the signed Will, we can legitimately sign and complete the signing details. The Law Society of Scotland anticipates that this would be deemed to form one continuous process as required by the legislation. You will be asked during the video call show us the ID that you have emailed to us, so that we can verify they are the same and that the photo ID is a true likeness of you.

I am self-isolating or don’t have access to video call facilities…

If you are self-isolating and no witness is available physically with you and there are no video facilities available, your signature alone is enough to make your Will a valid Will. If your Will remains in this state until your death, while it will be valid, it will be necessary as part of the Confirmation process (the Scottish equivalent of Probate) to “set-up” the Will as having been signed by you, by Affidavit evidence as to your signature. For this reason, it will generally be preferable to replace such a Will by a formally executed version when the current conditions are lifted.

Can’t you just do everything by telephone?

Given the need for identity checks, assessments of capacity and/or checks for undue influence to be carried out it is not possible to take instructions solely over the telephone and then send a document to a client for signing. Despite the very real, practical difficulties that the profession face in the current climate the requirements of the Law Society of Scotland cannot be waived.

Where no possible visual contact at all can be made, what a solicitor can do is limited. However, you can write out clearly your own will or other testamentary instruction. Signing alone, while not ideal, will generally create a valid testamentary instruction and we can supply details of what is required for formal validity involving an independent witness. This should always be considered as a temporary measure should the worst happen before the restrictions are lifted and we would always recommend that you ask us to formally prepare your Will and attend to signing and witnessing in the usual way just as soon as possible thereafter.

How can I get in touch?
Our Private Client solicitors, Craig Bennet, Lynsey Rintoul, Mirella Marchini can be contacted on the numbers and email addresses below. They will be able to guide you through the process:-

Craig Bennet – 01383 629814 or craigbennet@morganlaw.co.uk

Lynsey Rintoul – 01383 629825 or Lynseyrintoul@morganlaw.co.uk

Mirella Marchini – 01383 629849 or mirellamarchini@morganlaw.co.uk