COVID-19 and Wills

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COVID-19 and Wills

June 8th, 2020, Legal Updates, News
Can a will be prepared if during the COVID-19 pandemic if it is impossible to find a medical practitioner in order to confirm that the testator has the required mental capacity?
  •  The testator will need to be warned that the will might be challenged.
  • If the testator still wishes to proceed, the solicitors can prepare a will.
Is there a way to facilitate the witnessing of wills and codicils?
  • As ‘presence’ is to involve physical presence, witnessing via video-conferencing is impossible.
  • Supervising the signing of a will using electronic means is possible (if the solicitor is not acting as a witness to the will).
  • It may be sufficient for witnesses to see the testator signing when they are separated by a glass window. Another key factor is having the testator in the line of sight.
Is it possible to amend an executed will in manuscript while locked down at home? What is it necessary to check to ensure that such amendments are valid? What are the risks of amending a will in that way?
  • The amendments need to be legible and make sense. They need to be marked in ink or ballpoint pen (not pencil).
  • To formalise the manuscript amendments the testator and both witnesses will need to execute the amendments in the same way as the will, sign or add their initials close to the amendments or to a memorandum referring to the amendments.
  • The will will have to be re-executed by the testator.
  • The testator will need to make a codicil.
  • It is unlikely that manuscript amendments made without consulting a solicitor will comply with formalities.
  • Incorrectly executed amendments will not have effect unless they obliterate the text of the original will. The obliterated text will be treated as blank.
  • Additional evidence might be required if the manuscript amendments are questioned by the probate registry.

If you have a question, please do not hesitate to contact James Cohen directly on [email protected] or 0207 822 2257.

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