Is my lockdown will invalid?
- AuthorPhilippa Rowley
In order for a will to be valid, its execution needs to comply with various formalities which are set out in the Wills Act 1937. This includes the requirement for the will to be signed in the presence of two or more witnesses. However, social distancing measures as a result of Covid-19 have inevitably caused various issues with the requirement to have at least three people in each others presence at the same time.
The Government has responded to this difficulty and is introducing new temporary legislation to allow wills to be witnessed via video link in England and Wales. The legislation will be backdated to apply to wills made since 31 January 2020. However the requirement to have wills witnessed has not been removed and any will that is not appropriately witnessed will be invalid.
The circumstances surrounding Covid-19 and the resulting urgency in taking instructions and preparing wills are set to cause further problems. The Law Society has recognised that there may be difficulties assessing testamentary capacity and/or any undue influence remotely through video conferencing. Should a person be deemed not to have had capacity at the time, perhaps as a result of old age or a mental condition, this will invalidate their will. Also if the will was executed as a result of coercion from a family member or friend of the deceased, it will no longer be valid.
The difficulties in instructing a professional are also likely to have led to a proliferation of homemade wills, which are notoriously problematic. Homemade wills are regularly invalidated by a failure to comply with execution formalities and/or a lack of knowledge and approval.
If you believe a will is invalid contact our contentious probate experts. Please email Philippa Rowley or call our Contested Wills team on 0800 118 1500 to find out how we can help you. Or alternatively click here for more information.