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Ministry of Justice could make writing wills easier during COVID-19 period

6th April 2020

woman writing a will

During the COVID-19 crisis, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is looking into making the writing of wills easier.

These unprecedented circumstances, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, are having far-reaching ramifications for nearly every aspect of UK life – including those who work in lawyer jobs. From the way we work to how we interact with friends and family; nothing is the same.

The social-distancing measures enforced by the government are also impacting an already sombre occasion in a person’s life – the writing of a will. Currently, for a valid will, it must be signed by two witnesses present at the same time. These witnesses must also not be related to the person writing the will.

The social-distancing measures in place make this almost impossible to achieve. So, as a result, the Ministry of Justice is looking at relaxing the current rules for a temporary period. The Guardian reports that this could involve reducing the number of witnesses required or introduction alternate options such as video witnessing.

The Guardian adds: “But the MoJ said any temporary relaxation of the rules would have to be balanced against the risk of fraud, with the rule about two independent witnesses historically in place to protect the vulnerable.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice has commented saying: “This is a delicate area of law and we absolutely must continue to protect the elderly and vulnerable against potential fraud. While there are no current plans to change the law, we will consider all options and keep this under review during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Guardian reports that the Law Society and The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (Step) have both been in touch with the Ministry of Justice to discuss relaxing the rules and making this process easier.

A technical counsel at Step has commented: “The COVID-19 pandemic is leading to a large rise in the number of people making or updating their wills. We are hopeful that the Ministry of Justice will implement temporary legislative measures to facilitate will writing at this time while remaining mindful of the potential scope for abuse in these situations. Now, more than ever, it is important for people to be attentive when putting together or updating their will to ensure that it will be valid.”

As Step has indicated, people are thinking increasingly about this period in their lives and wanting to make sure that everything is in place regarding their wills. Hopefully, a solution can be found to make will writing easier during these trying times.

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