Urgent Calls for the Change to the Law for Witnessing Wills


Liz Fyfe

In a few short weeks we have seen unprecedented change across all sectors of life here in the UK and across the world. Already, we can see how communities are pulling together to support one another, particularly those who may be vulnerable or isolated. There is no aspect of life unaffected, yet things must go on.

As a lawyer specialising in Wills and Probate, I have seen first hand the sweeping effect. The Telegraph reported last week a 30% surge in requests for new Wills. This certainly seems the case here at Thornton Jones where we have seen a significant increase in the requests we have received for assistance. Now more than ever ensuring that a person has a valid Will or Lasting Power of Attorney in place is vital.

Traditionally, we would provide these services via face-to-face office appointments. For a Will to be legally valid it must be signed by the person making it in the presence of two witnesses. In the current climate you might think that this will mean that it is no longer possible to provide this service however this is not the case.

Now, more than ever, we are continuing to help our clients, old and new, to make Wills and put in place Lasting Powers of Attorneys. The current pandemic is bringing to the forefront of everyone’s mind the need to ensure that a proper Will is in place to ensure that your wishes will be recognised. But with the current government guidelines regarding self-isolation and social distancing you might wonder how making a Will is possible?

As lawyers we often rely on traditional methods but now we must think outside the box. Our team of dedicated lawyers are able to work remotely, from home, and with the use of modern technology we are able to offer an un-interrupted service.

We are actively taking instructions for Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney by telephone and by video call using Skype, Zoom and FaceTime. Our colleagues and clients are embracing our use of modern technology and are fully supportive in using all means at our disposal to ensure we can still make a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney. Where necessary we can attend outside a clients home to witness the document being signed though a window in order to protect all involved.

There are calls for the Ministry of Justice to bring forward emergency measures to relax the rules on the signing of Wills for this time of crisis. Whilst we await any decision, it is clear that we must continue to do what we can, and anyone wishing to make a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney should act now to ensure that their wishes will be fulfilled.

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