Valid Will Signings at Home
Chattertons understand that there is a great deal of uncertainty at this time, especially in regard to Will signings. There are strict rules laid down regarding how a Will should be signed to ensure it is effective and therefore, we usually recommend that your Will is signed, and witnessed at our office to ensure these rules are complied with. Obviously we are unable to comply with those measures at the present time, which is why we have produced this blog with the intention to provide you with an overview for signing your Will at home. This blog is in addition to the 'How To Sign Your Will' guide given when you receive your original Will. Should you have any questions, big or small, please speak to the solicitor dealing with your matter before you sign your Will.
Your Will must be signed in the presence of two independent witnesses whom you know and believe could give reliable evidence regarding the witnessing of your Will. When we state 'Independent' we are referencing those who will not benefit from your Will, those who are not executors or trustees and those who are not under the age of 18 or members of your family. Neighbours, friends, and professionals, for example doctors and solicitors are classed as independent. We understand that finding suitable witnesses during the current climate will be difficult, and we do not wish for you to travel to find them thus risking you to infection. It is important that social distancing is maintained to keep both you and your witnesses safe. If you are having difficulty finding a witness, please contact your solicitor in the first instance and they will advise on how to proceed.
We advocate that you and your witnesses adhere to the two meter social distancing rules or the latest government guidelines when signing, and if possible use your own pens (pencil is not accepted). Some clients have used an open window to allow witnesses to see them signing their Will without stepping into their property. Please note that this is not our advice, rather a good example on how to keep safe whist signing.
It is important that both witnesses are present at the time of signing and that they sign the document immediately after yourself. Once your Will has been signed by all parties please date it.
Once your Will has been signed, we are requesting a photograph or scan be taken and the original Will to be placed in an envelope addressed to Chattertons. Please do not attach anything to your Will. This includes a covering letter with a paperclip for example. The scanned or photographed Will can then be sent to your solicitor. If you are unable make a copy, please keep your Will in a safe place and when social distancing rules have been lifted, return it to your local Chattertons office, either by recorded delivery or by handing it into the office directly. We encourage all parties to wash/sanitise their hands before and after signing the Will. We also suggest doing this after placing the Will into the envelope.
In addition to the above, we are requesting the execution of your Will is recorded or a video call is set up with your solicitor, so they can witness the signing of your Will to make sure it is a valid and legal document. We understand this may be difficult but we are acting in your best interests. Please advise the witnesses of the recording or video call prior to the signing of your Will to make sure they are comfortable with this, or for them to record or make the video call if you are unable to. If a video call or recording is not possible, then we would advise that you make a separate note detailing how the Will was signed and witnessed and keep this with the Will.
Your safety is Chattertons' priority and we do not wish for you to put yourself at risk in relation to the execution of your Will. We understand that making sure your Will is signed is of the utmost importance to you. However, we need to make sure it is safe to do so and if it is not, there is a possibility the execution will be postponed until social distancing restrictions are lifted. There is a small possibility that your Will may need to be resigned at Chattertons office once restrictions are lifted. This will only apply if we are not satisfied the Will has been signed correctly. Please note this will be assessed on a case by case basis.
Do you need advice about your will?
Please contact your solicitor or telephone your local Chattertons office, should you have any questions. We are, as always, happy to assist.