The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the inflexibility of current UK laws around Wills and inheritances. Many Will Writers are reporting surges in business due to people wanting to ensure their affairs are in order.
One of the biggest challenges is that as the law currently stands, many documents still require an original witnessed signature. This means that the document must be signed in front of a specified number of witnesses, usually one of two. A witness is required to also sign to declare they have witnessed the individual physically signing the document in person.
Whilst, it would not normally be ideal, it may be technically possible for someone you are already isolating with at home, to witness the document for you. For example, the HM Land Registry does allow certain close family to witness documents provided they are not one of the parties named in the document.
Another solution for some could be telephoning a neighbour and asking them to watch you sign the document whilst you are both outside and maintaining social distancing. There is some discussion around whether witnessing through a window may be accepted. It’s currently not clear if this will be legally valid so is best avoided.
Many legal professionals are calling for the government to review and relax current law. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “While there are no current plans to change the law, we will consider all options and keep this under review during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
If you have further questions about the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, please don’t hesitate to contact us.