One of the consequences of the Government’s current social distancing policy is that it can present challenges when it comes to signing documents such as Wills and Powers of Attorney, especially the requirement for signatures to be witnessed. 

Scotland

Fortunately the Law Society of Scotland has released some helpful guidance regarding the use of video conferencing to solve that problem in relation to Wills.  If a suitable witness cannot be physically present, the testator can arrange a video conference with their solicitor so that he or she can see the testator sign each page and at the end in the normal way.  For people isolating at home this may well be the best solution.  While in theory a family member can act as a witness, we recommend using an independent person if at all possible.

The same guidance also offers potential solutions for arranging Powers of Attorney to be signed.

All of this means that it is still perfectly possible for us to prepare Wills, Codicils and Powers of Attorneys for clients and arrange for them to be signed in accordance with the Law Society’s guidelines, and we have done exactly that for a number of clients.  In other words, it is business as usual for us and so please do get in touch if there is anything we can help with. 

England and Wales

In England and Wales the position is more difficult because the law requires that the witness (or two witnesses in the case of a Will) is physically present when a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney is signed.  We understand that the Law Society, the SRA and professional bodies have been considering possible solutions to this and we will let you know as soon as we know more.   

As ever, please get in touch with your normal Turcan Connell contact if there is anything we can help with.  Alternatively, please email us at enquiries@turcanconnell.com .