According to the Law Society, the number of people looking to write new Wills in the UK has risen by at least 30 per cent following the outbreak of coronavirus. Nevertheless, the process of creating and amending Wills relies heavily on face-to-face interaction, which makes the government measures to stay at home and self-isolate more challenging.
It’s crucial that during this period, you do not delay getting your estate planning in order. Being in lockdown is an unusual situation to adapt to, however it has also created an opportunity for people to get overdue tasks completed, including writing or revising your Will.
At James & George Collie, we are always available to assist you and will continue to offer trusted guidance, no matter your legal need. To speak with a member of our team about your estate planning, call us on 01224 581581 or complete the online enquiry form and one of our lawyers will get back to you as soon as possible.
Having a valid Will in place is always recommended to safeguard your assets and ensure your loved ones will be looked after should something happen to you. It is important to note that finalising your Will is still achievable without infringing the social distancing rules, albeit more consideration has to be given to the process than normal.
As it stands, we should not be leaving our homes for reasons other than necessary food shopping, one form of exercise a day and, for those considered key workers, going to their place of employment. This, therefore, makes it feel almost impossible to ensure your Will is legally binding as it must be signed by you (the testator) as well as a witness.
For a Will to be valid in Scotland, it must be:
You can read more about the requirements for writing a Will in Scotland by clicking here.
The Law Society of Scotland (LSS) has produced guidance concerning the execution of Wills during the coronavirus pandemic. The LSS categorised the short-term solution into two sections; whether you instructed a solicitor before the measures were implemented, or are considering instructing a lawyer under the current circumstances.
If you already instructed a solicitor for your Will – and your lawyer assessed your capability and susceptibility to undue influence prior to the lockdown – the process is simpler, and the Will can be posted or emailed to you for signing. Should a witness be available, you can proceed in line with standard practices.
However, due to the stay at home measures, it is highly unlikely you will have a witness physically present. To deal with this issue, the LSS recommends a video link is set up to witness the signing of each page.
If you are instructing a solicitor for the first time, then the temporary process of executing the Will is less straightforward. You will have to arrange a meeting with your chosen lawyer via a video link (such as Skype) in which your solicitor will ensure you have capacity and are not being unduly influenced into writing or amending your Will.
For those who are new to a firm entirely, you must also be able to prove who you are through video conferencing. This can be done by holding up identity documents for your solicitor to view. The requirement for identity checks will not be waived during this period.
You can read more about the temporary guidance on signing and witnessing Wills in Scotland here.
DIY Wills are now, more than ever, likely to be created due to the restrictions of leaving your own home. However, these types of Wills should be considered with extreme caution, as they can be tricky in terms of abiding with legal requirements and could result in the Will being made void if not carried out correctly.
That is why we remain fully available to assist you with your Will through video conferencing calls, helping you to ensure your Will is legally valid and will carry out your wishes on your death.
Although this is a difficult time for everyone, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light why we have to be prepared for such unforeseen circumstances. That is why at James & George Collie, we will provide continued support throughout the lockdown measures, assisting you with your legal concerns. Do not delay, speak with our Wills team today on 01224 581581 or by completing the online contact form.
This guide does not constitute legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only. If you require specific legal advice you should contact one of our lawyers who can advise you based on your own circumstances.
Please note this information is accurate as of 28 April 2020 and is subject to change as official guidance is adapted to reflect the implications of the virus.