Your Will and COVID-19
As lawyers we are presented with issues every day and we apply the law to overcome these issues. Whilst we are not able to resolve the global pandemic, we reached deep into the archives to find the appropriate authority to ensure your Wills can be validly executed with the minimum of contact between the testator and witnesses, to ensure the safety of our clients and colleagues, as well as meeting our professional obligations and standards.
Execution of Wills
For a Will to be valid under Section 9 Wills Act 1837 it must be signed by the testator in the physical presence of two independent witnesses who must also sign in the testator’s physical presence. The testator must intend for his or her signature to give effect to the Will.
Due to the Government guidance on social distancing and the contagious nature of the virus we had to interpret what could be deemed as signing in the physical presence of the testator and witnesses and how we would apply the law to current circumstances. We had already explored the possibility of signing by video link or electronic signature but this does not meet the requirements of physical presence set out in Section 9 Wills Act 1837.
We then looked at cases where the validity of Wills have been challenged and how the law was applied to the facts of the case, effectively making a new law and came across the case of Casson v Dade 1871.
In 1871 Miss Honoura Jenkins went to her Attorney’s office to execute a Will and when she finished signing she felt faint. Her maid escorted her from the office and sat with her in the carriage outside. The witnesses then signed the Will. However meanwhile, and later testified by the maid when the validity of the Will was challenged, the horse had reared up and moved the carriage within the view of the window and it was ruled that if Miss Jenkins had looked up, she would have seen her witnesses signing her Will through the window.
Fast forward 149 years and there are no horses or carriages, however we have established that we can witness you signing your Will through glass while you sit in your car!
If you would like to make a Will we are here to help.
We would Love to Actually!
From all at Hatchers #staysafe
Please contact our team on 01743 248545 or email email@example.com for more information.