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Getting a Will witnessed

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Steve Maskery

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Blackswanwood":wrytsp12 said:
Okay … personally it’s not what I see them as being there for but perhaps I’m out of touch.
Well under normal circumstances I would agree with you. But these are not normal circumstances. It's no use waiting until we return to normality if I'm not there to to see it.
 

Inspector

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Steve Maskery":2qem41je said:
Blackswanwood":2qem41je said:
Are you joking about asking the emergency services?
Well, the non-emergency community services, yes. They used to do the rounds. They support the community. I wasn't going to ring 999!
Since you can't go to any of the usual suspects, like Lawyers, Notary publics, family Doctor, Priests you are left with people you know or some other public entity and family or friends. Since Steve is such a :wink: crank #-o and doesn't have anyone that will help him, arranging with the non emergency side of the police, if open to it, or the guys hanging around the fire hall waiting for a call is reasonable. If they can't they will tell him so and might be able to suggest something else.

Now if there are some forum members near him they could meet in a grocery store parking lot and do it over the hood of a car and Steve could repay them by buying them a few rolls of TP. :)

Pete
 

Deadeye

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To be honest, just do what everyone does when a little pragmatism is called for:
Telephone your two witnesses and explain the situation.
Then send two copies in the post, signed by you, to the first, enclosing a SAE to the second and a SAE to you.
The first signs and sends on to second. The second signs and returns to you.
Unless your will is very unusual, this works fine and nobody gets hurt.

If you're an absolute stickler for "in person" then neighbours and the postman.
 

Blackswanwood

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Sawdust Sam":3ocm7i2z said:
Blackswanwood":3ocm7i2z said:
Sawdust Sam":3ocm7i2z said:
You could use Docusign and get people to sign it electronically.

https://www.docusign.com/features-and-b ... e/personal
I think you will find electronic signatures are not valid for a will
I’m no expert but the link suggests they are legally binding.
You definitely cannot use an electronic signature on a will. Pretty sure the same applies to a deed. A will has to be signed by the testator in the presence of the witnesses. I don’t know your circumstances Steve and whether anyone will challenge your will but I personally would stick to what it says on the Gov.uk website on requirements for signing and witnessing the document. In the current climate that may be awkward but I think I have seen you down the shops with a pretty impressive PPE outfit on so hopefully you can find a way to make it work.

I very much hope it turns out to be academic and you stay safe!
 

marcros

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Sawdust Sam":h61zwhvc said:
Blackswanwood":h61zwhvc said:
Sawdust Sam":h61zwhvc said:
You could use Docusign and get people to sign it electronically.

https://www.docusign.com/features-and-b ... e/personal
I think you will find electronic signatures are not valid for a will
I’m no expert but the link suggests they are legally binding.
you are confusing 2 concepts. the legality or otherwise of a digital signature, and the requirements of a will.

The law of wills is old, the Wills Act 1837. It stipulates what a binding will must satisfy, and this includes being in writing and signed in the presence of 2 witnesses.

The problem with signing in front of randoms is proving who they are and your executors locating them in the event of an issue after your death. Some silly person could sign it with a squiggle, and details of John Smith, 14 smith street. Nobody would be able to locate that person again if the will was contested or questioned. There is a lot to be said for paying professional persons to witness it, or waiting until there are people that you know or trust.

is there a local neighbourhood watch, parish council, church etc?
 

Steve Maskery

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The Powers That Be do check on these things. I once witnessed a signature of someone I didn't really know very well. I'd met her a couple of times, but she was the sister of one of my best friends, so I did know who she was.

It was for a passport application. I got a phone call from the PTB checking up on it all as they thought it was a bit suspicious. So these things do have to be done properly, somehow.
 

RogerS

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loftyhermes":edy1wuia said:
When we did our will we all had to sign with the same pen, something I couldn't understand why and still don't why.
Because whoever told you that was anally retentive. There is no requirement to use the same pen.
 

Duncan A

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The Docusign website makes it clear that, under UK law, the validity of electronic signatures is unclear!
Not worth the risk if you are that concerned about having your affairs fully in order.
I suppose that, if the worst happened, you could make sure that the paper copy comes to hospital with you and you could get it witnessed there. Not a cheering thought!
You appear to be taking all precautions so have a good chance of getting through this. Continue as you are and don't check the news more than once a day or FOBS will get you - Fear Of Being Scared!
Take care,
Duncan
 

Steve Maskery

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I think that, given the state of my mental health over much of the last decade, I'm coping fairly well. I'd love to go out for a walk round the reservoir, but it's not worth the risk. I'm OK for food. I've got more to do on my bench.
If I'm still well on Monday, I shall start to relax a bit, it will have been a week since I saw anyone. But without any timber I'm not sure what I shall do to occupy myself. There are only so many crosswords one can be enthusiastic about.
 

Irish Rover

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Take everything out of your workshop, wipe down, brush up then put it all back again.

That's what I have done over the past couple of days and it is cathartic.
 

Richard_C

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Passport is different, living person, living witness and lots of attempted malfeasance.

If the will is contentious, eg close relative cut out, it may be challenged by that relative and witnesses mater but having done 4 simple parent/parent in law probates in 10 years I've never had a question about witnesses. Many witnesses pre-decease the will maker anyway, or move away, how could that be checked except for simple public records, yes there was a J Smith living at 2 Smith Street at that time so on balance OK. Civil law runs on the balance of probabilities not beyond reasonable doubt.

I would find a 2 adults, neighbours maybe, living in the same household so who can be together. A couple can both be witnesses. Walk or if you have to drive. Go stand outside their window, sign it in view, leave it in envelope on doorstep, retreat. Get it back In a day or two. I think covid only lives for a few hours on fabric, paper etc not the 72 some have found on hard surfaces. You can check it out to keep everyone safe.
 

profchris

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Please don't follow most of the guesses which have been posted here!

As it happens I am an authority on electronic signatures - my writings have been cited with approval by the Law Commission. And recently the Law Commission has been consulting a small expert group about changing the law on witnessing deeds and wills, so I'm up to speed with the subject (though I can't disclose the discussions).

If these are minor changes to your will, then don't re-write the will. Instead put the changes down in a separate document (this is technically called a codicil to the will, so you might head it Codicil).

Don't try to mimic legal language. Just write what you want as simply and clearly as possible.

To make this document a legal effective part of your will you must:

a. Sign and date it by hand.

b. Two people must actually see you sign (it's not valid if you sign it in advance, they must see you make the signature), and you must be in their presence. That means they must be able to see you sign directly - through a window would be fine. (I could make a convincing argument that if they saw you via video, that was valid. But another lawyer could make an equally convincing argument that it wasn't. The only way to find out would be several hundred thousand pounds worth of litigation.)

c. Those witnesses must also sign the same document (not any separate document) as witnesses, giving their addresses.

d. Being a witness disqualifies them from receiving anything under the will (but the witnessing is still valid).

There might well be a local helpline (there is in my village) in which case two people could stand 2m from your doorstep and 2m from each other, watch you sign, and then you step inside while they witness. They can bring their own pens, wear gloves, etc.

The other thing to remember is that the beneficiaries can change the distribution under the will if they all agree. Both my parents died recently, leaving everything equally to their children. We have agreed to give some directly to the grandchildren.

So if your beneficiaries can be trusted to remain on good terms you can just write a letter of wishes setting out the changes.

However, if you want to write out one beneficiary and substitute a different one (maybe changing a charity) then you do need a formal codicil.

I hope this helps.
 

Steve Maskery

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Thank you all for your input.
Chris - I'd come to that solution myself, just this morning. I get on with my neighbours over the road, and I have their number. I'm sure that they would witness through the window for me.
Right that's one task I can do.
Many thanks all.
 

profchris

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One more thing Steve - wills aren't my specialist area (I cover technology law), and anyway as an academic I don't carry liability insurance! So once this is all over, get your codicil checked over by your solicitor and maybe re-done formally.

I'm pretty sure that what you plan will work in an emergency - only pretty sure, but that's better than nothing. The hard part is making your wishes clear and unambiguous, which really does require years of practice. So keep it simple, as if writing to a hard-of-understanding friend who needs everything explained - we all have at least one of those, if we're not that friend ourselves :D
 
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