How to sign documents that need to be witnessed during the Coronavirus pandemic

Although it is business as usual for us during this unprecedented and worrying time, there are some things that we have had to adapt to ensure compliance with the law.

One of these is how our clients go about signing their Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and other legal documents, where signatures need to be witnessed.

Signing a Will legally

Firstly, if you are signing a Will, please refer to our factsheet about how to sign your Will for a run down on how to do this under normal circumstances.

We have two versions, one where the Will has been sent to you in the post and one where the Will has been sent to you by email. You’ll see that ordinarily you need to sign your Will in the presence of two independent witnesses.

Signing a Lasting Power of Attorney legally

If you are signing a Lasting Power of Attorney or Deed, we have factsheets about how to sign these too.

Signing documents during the Coronavirus pandemic

During this pandemic, you might be wondering whether there is another way that witnessing documents can be done, other than by having your witnesses being physically present. Although there isn’t yet an alternative, it is perfectly possible for your witnesses to validly witness your documents, whilst also practising social distancing.

You’ll need to sign the document and then move away to let your witness approach the document to sign. We recommend all wearing gloves and each person using their own pen. This can even be done through a window or over a garden fence, but you’ll need to ensure that the document can be left somewhere where you’ll each be able to reach it and in view of the signature being witnessed.

There are talks going on now with the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and the Ministry of Justice about changing the way Wills and other documents are signed and witnessed, but there are no plans in the pipeline at present to update the law. Our prediction is that in the next few years, documents like these will be able to be signed electronically.

Our Managing Director spoke to That’s TV last week about this issue. You can view the interview on our Facebook page.

Need further help?

If you would like to discuss how the changes to the grant of probate might affect you, or you want advice on acting as an Executor or Administrator, please contact us.

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