We are currently in uncharted territory which call for us to all work in ways we haven’t before.
One of the immediate areas needing consideration is the current probate laws in relation to the requirements for a valid Will in particular the way a Will needs to be witnessed in order for it be seen as a valid legally binding Will.
There are ongoing talks between the Law Society and Ministry of Justice to deformalise the way in which we sign Wills. Currently Wills must be signed by the person making the Will in the presence of two, witnesses to be valid. The Witnesses cannot be a family member, or anyone named in the Will and therefore with the current social distancing in place this can prove very difficult.
A balance needs to be found between how we follow the strict requirements required to prepare a Will whilst at the same time keeping people safe.
Current laws around Wills have been in place since 1837 and if any emergency new laws are put in place for the coronavirus pandemic it has not been confirmed that these will stay in place once it is over.
A number of options have been put forward for consideration these included: –
- A European style system – this would include wills being written by hand without any witnesses
- A new process where wills could be witnesses electronically
- An Australian style approach – this would give judges more flexibility when deciding what constitutes a will
Another suggestion that has been made is that wills could be made similar to those making them in the armed forces. This would include making either a written or oral will. If written there is no requirement for a witness to sign the will.
With the Coronavirus pandemic moving as quickly as it is, our lawyers are working hard to adapt to the new environment and putting processes in place to enable client to continue to make wills, this process is evolving daily