How to write a Will without leaving your home – is it possible?

Writing a Will is a task that most people know is important. We know that putting a Will in place saves our family and loved ones from a great deal of anxiety and trouble after you have passed away. There is never a situation where not having a Will is a better plan than having one. But you may be wondering how to write a Will without leaving your home, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Will is something that never seems to make it to the top of the ToDo list. In fact, most surveys put the number of UK adults without a Will at about 60-65 percent. Of those that do have a Will, many are not kept up-to-date.

But we are now living in very unusual and uncertain times. During the COVID-19 pandemic an increasing number of people are finally getting Will writing off their To Do list. At LegalWills.co.uk we have seen a dramatic surge over the last 8 months in the number of people preparing their Will.

But although COVID-19 has made people more aware of the importance of writing a Will , it has presented it’s own challenges with tiered lockdowns and family bubbles.

But there has been some changes in the law to help people prepare their Will during a pandemic. So the question remains:

Is it possible to write a Will without leaving your home?

How to write a Will without leaving your home
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Signing your Will – how the recent law change can help you finally write your Will.

The legal statute that describes the requirements for signing your Will was written in 1837. That same year, Queen Victoria ascended to the throne, Michigan became the 26th US State, and Samuel Morse invented the telegraph.

It was a long, long time ago.

The 1837 Wills Act states that in order for a Will to be valid:

(a) it is in writing, and signed by the testator, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction; and
(b) it appears that the testator intended by his signature to give effect to the will; and
(c) the signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and
(d) each witness either—
(i) attests and signs the will; or
(ii) acknowledges his signature, in the presence of the testator (but not necessarily in the presence of any other witness),but no form of attestation shall be necessary.

Signing a Will
credit: 123rf

So let us break down exactly what this law means. And discuss the implications of this law in 2020, with particular consideration of COVID-19.

“A Will must be in writing”

In the context of the Wills Act, this means that you must write it down. You cannot verbally tell somebody what you would like done with your possessions. If you simply tell somebody, it is not compliant with the Wills Act, and a verbal promise has no legal standing.

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Will writing in troubled times

Today’s blog post isn’t quite like anything we’ve done before. We felt, all things considered, that it was important to connect with you all on a more human level. Even though we’re still working away behind the scenes, it certainly isn’t ‘business as usual’ for us — or for anyone for that matter.

It’s hard to ignore that things aren’t really all that ‘normal’. A lot of us are feeling uneasy, scared even, about what the future could possibly have in store. Those are natural feelings to have about the situation, considering there’s no official end date in sight to this crisis state we’re in. 

There is one particular group who, despite their fear and worries, are being asked to step up. We’re talking about front line healthcare workers; the unsung heroes who are risking their lives to keep us out of harm’s way. The doctors, nurses, caregivers, and medical staff are working around the clock in our hospitals; putting the care of others ahead of their own physical and emotional well-being.

Our CTO, Henry Raud, has a daughter who is a Registered Nurse, working on the front lines to diagnose and care for COVID-19 patients. “Every day, I am concerned about my daughter contracting this virus, especially given that thousands of healthcare workers around the world have already been infected, and far too many of whom have died. As a father, I can’t help but feel concerned for my daughter’s safety. But more than anything, I am extremely proud of her for what she is doing to help people to get through this crisis. She absolutely loves what she is doing, despite all the risks. I can’t imagine any father being more proud than I am right now. And I am thankful for all of the other healthcare workers out there, risking their lives in the same way to help everyone that they can.”

Healthcare workers, just like Henry’s daughter, are keeping our families, friends, and communities safe. Even with a dangerously low supply of PPE and medical resources across the board, they continue to show up to do their part to help us all through this. They are protecting those nearest and dearest to us — and we wanted to do our part to help protect what’s nearest and dearest to them; their families, their friends, their assets. It really is the least we could do.

That is why we have decided to join our peers in the online estate planning community in offering free Wills and Power of Attorneys to our healthcare heroes. These healthcare heroes are being directed to get their affairs in order, while they continue to combat this disease. Helping facilitate the process for them is the best way that we can give back.

Our mandate has always been to make estate planning affordable and convenient, and it is our core belief that every adult should have a Will, Power of Attorney, and Living Will in place. We have worked for 20 years to remove the barriers to doing this. Especially now, the importance of being able to prepare these documents from the comfort of your home comes into sharp focus.

To start working on your Will, please send an email to healt[email protected] from your healthcare work email account with your Name and Employee ID. There you will receive instructions on opening your account and preparing your Will.

Thank you! We truly appreciate everything that you do to keep us well!

Tim Hewson, CEO, LegalWills

How to make a Will – for somebody else…today

We are in the midst of a very strange time with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are being asked to “self-isolate”, some people are being quarantined, and thoughts are turning to estate planning and getting one’s affairs in order.

We get this question a lot: “Can you let me know how to make a Will for my parents, or an elderly neighbour?” You may have a friend or family member who needs a Will, but they are not very good with computers. You have heard horror stories about the blank DIY Will Kits and how they don’t produce quality final documents. Surely there must be another option.

You may also be thinking about creating a Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs, or a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Wellfare. Perhaps you’re even considering an Advance Directive.

You may not want to book an appointment with a solicitor. You certainly don’t want strangers coming to your door (or your elderly parent’s door) offering to write a Will. Is it possible to prepare documents for somebody else without an appointment, and without leaving one’s home?

Let’s be clear from the outset. The person that you intend to prepare the Will for must have testamentary capacity. It’s one thing for them to not like computers, but if they are struggling with a cognitive illness like dementia or Alzheimer’s, then this is a non-starter. The person must know that they are working with their Last Will and Testament, they must understand the contents of that document, and they must appreciate the implications of what they are signing.

How to Make a Will
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We would also recommend steering away from this approach if you are planning on making yourself a beneficiary in the Will, particularly if other people have an expectation that they will be beneficiaries, but are going to be disinherited. For example, if you are one of three siblings, and you want to help your elderly mother prepare her Will leaving everything to yourself, there is a good chance that the Will is going to be challenged and ultimately rejected by the courts. Likewise, if you are a care provider and planning to include yourself as a beneficiary, we would not recommend taking this approach.

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How can I update my Will?

Most people don’t have a Will. And of those who do, many are not kept up to date. We often hear from people who prepared a Will decades ago, sometimes before they had children. They have a sense of knowing that their Will is in place, but they know in their heart that the Will is out-of-date, and probably doesn’t reflect their wishes. They need to update a Will, but they are not sure how to do it in the most cost effective way.

Unfortunately, the traditional approach to writing a Will is expensive and inconvenient. The same applies to updating a Will. The reason why people don’t update their Will is that same reason that most people don’t have a Will at all – there simply isn’t the time to get it done.

Fortunately, there are now a number of options to making sure that your Will is up-to-date.

Using a codicil to Update a Will
credit: 123rf

When do I need to update my Will?

1. If your Will is automatically cancelled.

There is only one situation where your Will ceases to function (other than the document being destroyed) – If you get married, and your Will was written before you got married (unless the Will specifically states that it was written in contemplation of marriage).

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