With property and share prices changing, and young people caught up in intense paranoia, demand for wills is skyrocketing. The elderly are concerned about revising old wills while young people want to prepare for an uncertain future.
“The legal procedures in the UK haven’t really changed with regards to the requirements for what’s valid in a will or when it comes to lasting power of attorney. The case law is very old; we still rely on that. We’re still needing wet signatures for a will… and for the witnesses as well.”
He also talked about “line of sight” being a requirement for witnessing the signing of a will; this becomes difficult considering social distancing guidelines. Technically, some argue that this could be rectified by having witnesses present in an adjoining room – or perhaps even outside of a glass window. However, it seems the UK does not have provisions in place to allow for virtual signing or witnessing of wills as of yet.
“I think it is something that is going to be looked at here in the UK – especially as we’ll have more and more people in isolation or some who may even be in a hospital ward; unfortunately a lawyer would not be able to go in to see them due to the risk of infection.”
The people now coming forth wanting to write their wills are drastically different from those who have come before. Mubin notes it is now young people in their 20s and 30s – sometimes even those with minimal estates and close to no relatives – who are worried about securing their futures.
“My advice to young people is: organise everything. Consider the main prerequisites: testamentary capacity that is being of sound mind; appointing of executors who will handle your affairs afterwards.”
“You need to consider what happens if both you and your partner pass away; so always have a backup clause if you have children under the age of 18. Then you need to decide who your beneficiaries will be and how you will divide up your estate; for that, you need to list out your assets.”
As we contemplate new and scary eventualities, knowledge and preparation may be our strongest shields.
Mubin Ahmed specialises in wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. You can find his profile here: https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/our-people/mubin-ahmed/