COVID-19 to prompt simplified will signing?

With public health at the front of everyone’s minds it is no surprise that more and more people are seeking to update their will, or in many cases draw up a will for the first time. The Law Society and the government are currently looking at ways to streamline the execution process in light of the restrictions on social mobility and distancing which the Coronavirus pandemic has brought about.

At the same time discussions are under way to speed up registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney, the legal mechanism that enables an appointed individual to make decisions on your behalf should you have an accident or illness and lose mental capacity.

Currently a will must be signed by the testator (the person who is making the will) and two independent witnesses, all present together, under laws which have been in place since 1837. Options being discussed include giving judges more flexibility when deciding what constitutes a will, a process whereby a will can be written by hand and without witnesses, and a system where a will could be witnessed electronically. It is unclear whether any new legislation would remain in place once the Coronavirus crisis has passed.

Current figures suggest that 55% of adults in this country have not made a will. When a person dies without leaving a valid will, the beneficiaries of the estate are decided by law of intestacy. These provisions can appear harsh, as they make little allowance for modern family relationships and recognise only blood relatives as those eligible to administer and benefit from the estate. This means that where there is no will, unmarried couples and step families will inherit nothing from the deceased.

The current situation is a stark reminder that nobody can be sure what the future holds so it is vital to take steps while you are in good health to protect yourself and your family.

Bretherton Law have been helping the people of Hertfordshire to manage their affairs for over 50 year, and we have built an enviable reputation for our professional service and honest advice. Our expert team can guide you through the probate process, as well as helping you to draw up a Will and Lasting Powers of Attorney, or act on your behalf in relation to Court of Protection or Trust matters.  Contact 01727 869293 or visit our website: https://www.brethertonlaw.co.uk/