Signing Your Will & Social Distancing

When George Michael died on Christmas Day 2016, as certainly as a bruise follows a fall, the obsequies were abundant.
You know like I do, the highest praise you could accord an artist is to revisit his work. Mr Michael’s music wasn’t my sort, nonetheless, I was put in mind of I Knew You Were Waiting his collaboration with Aretha Franklin. This recording was notable at the time because it was Miss Franklin’s first, and ultimately, only UK number one hit, and, more to our purpose the first major recording in which the principals, George Michael and Aretha Franklin weren’t on the same continent, never mind in the same room.
Talk about remote working.
This brings us to Signing Your Will in these days of Covid-19 and social distancing.

‘The formalities set out in the Wills Act do really matter.’

Lord Justice Jacobs, Parks V Clout 2003

Social Distancing or no, You Must Sign Your Will

About COVID-19, every nerve in our bodies is like a steel spring: these are times of high anxiety. Partly because washing our hands didn’t wash. But, what to do if you need to sign your will.

As you know you need two independent witnesses to your will. As an unsigned will is nothing but expensive paper.

Signing Your Will and social distancing
You Need Two Witnesses

That we talk here of Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 tells how contemporary the rules are. The relevance of a 183-year-old law to everyday goings on notwithstanding, we must deal with things as they are rather than as we’d like them to be. Alas, the formalities of the Wills Act matter.

In These Enlightened Times…

Recently, the Law Commission examined the possibility of electronic signatures in wills, you’ll have surmised that they sneered at the notion. My contemporaries hold that in these enlightened times, we should be signing papers electronically. That’s as they say.

But like reasonable folk, we must deal with matters as they are, rather as we wish they were. Let’s talk about this as if were serious, Yeun V Wong 2019 established witnessing documents by video was not acceptable – in 2019 for the love of Lord.

Covid-19 or No, You Must Sign Your Will

Signing Your Will in these Covid-19 Times, there’s a good chance social distancing [what semi-literate fool coined that ugly bastard phrase – don’t even get me started on making a verb of a noun] creates a special class of problem, then I might be able to help – at no charge. Many have done the widow thing; some have done the window and letterbox thing.

I’ve the Solution for You

For want of a more elegant phrase, this is a risk-based approach.
For want of a less hackneyed phrase, one size does not fit all.
To coin a phrase, we must suit the cure to the ill.
To be sure, these stratagems are for these times.
These stratagems are for these times. They are for these times only.
When the excitement of the hour has passed, I’ll not recommend them. But, for now, just call me and I’ll tell you how you could go about signing your will in these Covid-19 times.

I’m indebted to Barbara Rich and Charlotte John learned folk with sound views on the matter. Nonetheless, I’m kind of a nut and bolts sort of fellow. Call me to have a chat about this.

PS this, I fear is the only time I’ll volunteer… professionally.

What to Read Next: Wills & LPA Work Hand in Glove