Wills and witnesses

Published by Sarah Mannooch on 8 April 2020

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Now more than ever it is important to ensure that your wills and powers of attorney are as you wish them to be.  However, at present the regulations that require independent witnesses to wills and powers of attorney need to be revised to ensure peoples wishes can be met but the documents remain legally enforceable.

The coronavirus pandemic, subsequent lockdown and the instruction to self-isolate has made the requirement for independent witnesses to satisfy the regulations around wills and powers of attorney all but impossible at a time when demand has never been greater.

The Law Society and the Ministry of Justice are currently looking at ways to make this easier and will hopefully find a solution quickly. That may be as simple as allowing a will to be witnessed via Skype, WhatsApp or Zoom, or for a solicitor to sign a will on an individual’s behalf.

Other proposals include wills and powers of attorney that do not need to be witnessed at all, an Australian-styled approached that gives greater power to the judiciary and extending the ‘privileged will’ concept that is used by serving military personnel.

There has been a marked increase in disputed wills in recent years and whatever measures are introduced, care and attention will still be required to avoid costly disputes at a later date.

If you do not have a will or are aware it should be reviewed to ensure it meets your current wishes, then please contact our expert team here. We are constantly monitoring the position and will adapt the way we work to ensure that your needs are met.  Both in this respect and where powers of attorney are needed.

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