In these strange times, making a will or amending your current one can help your family and give you peace of mind for the future.
Abbie Kingdon, experienced private client solicitor at Samuels Solicitors LLP, tells us how to make a will during coronavirus and why you should consider adding this job to your lockdown to-do list.
Q: How can people make or amend their will at this time?
It’s best to speak to an experienced solicitor who can make you aware of your options.
Rebecca Parr or I will be happy to assist. Telephone our office (01271 343457) or alternatively email either of us (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) and we will be able help you make or amend your will. We can take your instructions by telephone or an online video Zoom meeting, and once your will is finalised, we will send you a properly bound copy for signature, with detailed advice about how it should be signed and witnessed.
Q: Do I still need someone to witness my will? If so, how can I do this whilst complying with social distancing regulations?
Yes, you do, and there must be two witnesses. The ancient law (The Wills Act 1837) is still very much in force. Although the person making the will and the witnesses must be physically present at the same time, we will give detailed guidance on how this can be achieved within the social distancing guidelines – many people are choosing neighbours as witnesses.
The Law Society and the Ministry of Justice are looking to relax the formalities of the Wills Act but there are no early changes on the horizon.
Q: Should people be using will writing kits to write their own wills at home?
In short, no! Each year we have many cases coming to our litigation department where homemade wills have been the direct cause of litigation. Common mistakes with homemade wills range from invalid signing, imprecise and ineffective language and a failure to consider the practical and legal implications of the gifts made.
We strongly recommend that you consult a solicitor to ensure your will is valid and that it accurately reflects your intentions.
Q: Is there anything else to think about when making or amending a will?
There are financial and tax aspects to consider, which together are sometimes described as ‘estate planning’. Considering these aspects can have a huge impact on the amount of tax that will be charged to your estate.
Estate planning also addresses who would manage your property and financial affairs or make decisions about your health and welfare if you become unable to make decisions yourself. Drawing up a lasting power of attorney enables you to appoint one or more individuals to make these potentially difficult decisions for you if need be.
Samuels Solicitors continues to provide a full legal service during lockdown. Although our offices are closed to members of the public, we are fully functioning and are dealing with our clients and colleagues via email, telephone and video conferencing during this time.
For more information visit www.samuels-solicitors.co.uk. Tel: 01271 343457 Fax: 01271 322187
18 Alexandra Road, Barnstaple, North Devon, EX32 8BA