- March 20, 2020
- Posted by: Josiah Hincks Solicitors
- Category: Legal News
How do I sign my will if I can’t leave the house? Self-isolation Will signing.
The requirements of signing a Will are set out in section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 as follows:
- The Will must be in writing and signed by the testator, or by some other person in their presence and by their direction;
- It must appear that the testator intended by their signature to give effect to the Will; and
- The signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and
- Each witness then signs the Will in the presence of the testator.
But what if you are self-isolating and cannot leave your house? Or you are in an at-risk category (as defined by the UK government) and are wary of going outside? How can you sign the Will?
We have provided some alternative ways of signing and having someone witness your Will under the current circumstances.
Witnessing through a window
It is possible to witness the Will signing through a window. This might sound extreme but if you are worried about contracting the virus it could be a viable option for you.
You will need to call two independent witnesses to come to your house and watch you sign the Will through your window. Then you will have to pass the Will to them through the letterbox or open window so that they can each sign it.
If you are planning to use this alternative method, we would advise that each person uses their own pen, that the two witnesses make sure they stand two metres away from each other and everyone makes sure they wash their hands before and after the signing to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
Witnessing in separate rooms
It is possible for your witnesses to witness your signature from the next room over without getting too close to you, thus minimising the risk of transmitting the virus. After you have signed the Will, it can then be passed over for the witnesses to sign. It must be noted that the witnesses must be able to see you signing the Will.
Directing a third party to sign your Will
If you are concerned that the above options involve too much contact for you, it is possible for you to have a third party sign the Will on your behalf.
This would involve having an extra person involved and may not be the most efficient way of signing your Will.
Nevertheless, you may have contracted the virus and in quarantine and are unable to physically get hold of your Will.
You can instruct a third party to collect and sign the Will on your behalf. You must explicitly and expressly tell them that this is what you want them to do, and the signing must still be in the presence of two witnesses. You should be present, but you could be separated from all three of them and not have to make contact at all.
If this is the option you choose, you should tell your solicitor in advance so that specific wording can be added to your Will to reflect the fact that it has been signed by a third party at your direction.
Unfortunately, it is not possible for the Will to be witnessed over video link or facetime, as it must be in the physical presence of the testator so that the witnesses can confirm their identity.
Please note that witnesses cannot be related to you or named as beneficiaries in the Will. If you are stuck at home, perhaps you could ask two friendly neighbours to be your witnesses.
When sending your Will for signing, we will also send you detailed instructions on where on the Will to sign.
If you would like specific advice on who you can ask to be your witness or need guidance on signing your Will, just call your solicitor after you have received your Will and they will be happy to talk you through the process.