‘Covid-19 and Wills – The Essential Guide’ by Edward Hewitt
Published: September 2020
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This book is part of our new series of essential guides for legal practitioners covering what you need to know about how various aspects of UK law have been affected by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a two-pronged impact on will making. On the one hand, the daily reporting in the media of an ever-increasing number of infections and deaths has undoubtedly galvanised people into putting their affairs in order, including by making a will. On the other hand, the imposition of a national lockdown and social distancing measures designed to slow the spread of the virus has made the mechanics of the will making process much more challenging.
Although at the time of writing some of the restrictions are gradually being eased, it seems clear that it is going to take some time before it will be possible to make a will in the way it was before the pandemic. The purpose of this short guide is to consider some of the challenges which the Covid-19 pandemic has created for those in the business of will preparation, and some of the ways in which these might be overcome. The guide assumes some pre-existing familiarity with will preparation, as the basics will not be covered.
All author royalties for this book are being donated to LawCare, https://www.lawcare.org.uk.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Edward Hewitt is a barrister at 5 Stone Buildings in Lincoln’s Inn. He has a private client practice with a particular emphasis on inheritance and trust disputes. He is frequently asked to advise and represent clients in cases involving challenges to the validity of wills and codicils, and was counsel in recent leading probate cases including James v James and Kunicki v Hayward.
1.1 The Covid-19 pandemic, lockdown and consequences for will making
1.2 The purpose of this guide
2. The Existing Legal Framework
2.2 A lot to think about
2.3 Testamentary capacity
2.4 Knowledge and approval
2.5 Undue influence
2.6 Due execution
3. Difficulties Caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic and Some Ways to Overcome Them
3.2 Taking the client’s instructions – steps before the first meeting
3.3 Taking the client’s instructions – the first meeting
3.4 Complying with the ‘golden rule’
3.5 Drafting the will
3.6 Explaining the draft will and asking the client to check it
3.8 Execution in person
3.9 Execution over a video link
3.10 Receiving the will back from the client
4. Particular Problems
4.1 Client self-isolating or shielding at home
4.2 Client in hospital
4.3 Client in a care home