There is concern that the number of Wills drafted as a result of panic have potentially not been witnessed properly or executed validly due to Covid-19 restrictions in place.
The legal requirements for the execution of a valid Will are set out in Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837. It requires wills to be signed in the presence of two or more witnesses.
Lockdown and social distancing rules have meant that it is difficult to adhere to these provisions and validly execute a Will. This has led to the Government announcing that Wills can be witnessed remotely via video conferencing software e.g. Zoom, Skype etc and that this will be backdated to 31 January 2020.
However, these changes may cause further issues and a “spike” in the number of potential contentious probate cases with doubt being cast over remotely witnessed Wills on the basis of undue influence occurring behind the camera and in respect of the individuals capacity to make the Will.
The nature of the pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in the number of Wills being prepared by individuals and to the number of instructions being given to lawyers.
Many individuals have been creating a homemade Will for the sake of speed and cost-saving, however, homemade Wills risk being poorly drafted or ineffective due to failing to validly execute the Will and misspelling of names.
Due to pressure to execute Wills in a very short space of time also raises issues as to whether individuals have received informed advice, whether the issues of capacity to make a Will has been properly assessed and also as to whether the Will has been properly executed.
The remote witnessing of Wills may prove fertile ground for challenges to Wills based on undue influence, lack of knowledge and approval and lack of capacity to make the Will.
We have helped a number of clients where they have been faced with a dispute over a Will. Our dispute resolution solicitors will quickly and efficiently put your case together and act on your behalf. Call Vijay Srivastava or Shalish Mehta in our civil and commercial litigation department on 0161 624 6811(Option 6) or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We can advise you on the appropriate course of action and assist with any legal documents or proceedings that may occur.
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