COVID-19 Q&A | Sintons | Wills, Trusts & Estates

During these unprecedented times, where the situation is changing on a daily basis, we are aware that individuals and business owners will have many questions and uncertainties about how these developments impact on them.

Here, through a series of Q&A with expert lawyers from across our firm, Sintons hopes to be able to answer some of those pressing questions, and provide some certainty and clarity for people who are unsure how to proceed.

We will bring you a question and answer per day for the next few weeks.

Q – I do not have a will and want to make one, but is it still possible to do so at present with social distancing rules?

At Sintons, we have seen a huge surge in clients wishing to make or update their wills due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Making a will in light of the social distancing rules has become more challenging, but absolutely still possible. However, it is important to seek professional advice to ensure that your will is executed safely and legally.

Under the Wills Act 1837, a will must be signed by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses, who are present at the same time. This clearly conflicts with the Government message to “Stay at Home” and remain at least two metres apart from other individuals who are not members of your household. Nonetheless, we can offer you practical solutions to ensure that your will is executed correctly, whilst ensuring that you and your witnesses stay safe. This could involve, for example, asking neighbours to stand outside your house while witnessing your signature through the window.

It is imperative that you seek professional advice regarding your will. If you choose to write a will yourself at home, or download one from the internet, there is a huge risk that it will not be drafted correctly in accordance with your wishes, nor executed correctly. This could mean that the validity of your will is challenged on death.

The wills, trusts and probate team at Sintons are now working remotely in accordance with Government guidance. Nevertheless, we are working hard to ensure that any disruption to client service is kept to an absolute minimum. Whilst we cannot meet with you face to face at the present time (unless in exceptional circumstances), we would be happy to take your instructions by telephone, Skype or Zoom. We will try to ensure all correspondence is by phone or email where possible, but we understand that for some elderly and vulnerable clients this is not appropriate. We are, therefore, still able to offer a postal service for those who need it.

All of our team are members of professional bodies such as Solicitors for the Elderly and STEP and can offer expert advice to ensure that your personal affairs are taken care of.

* For advice on this or any other private client matter, please contact Paul Nickalls, head of the wills, trust and probate department at Sintons, on or 0191 226 3640.

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