Considering current government guidelines regarding isolation, staying at home and social distancing, executing a Will or POA may be more of a challenge than usual. Wills & POAs cannot be signed or witnessed electronically or via webcam.
COVID-19 How can I sign my Will and have it witnessed if I am isolating?
Wills in England and Wales and Northern Ireland need to be signed by you in the physical presence of two independent witnesses, aged over 18, who are not named in the will, or a relative of someone who is.
If signing a Will in Scotland only one witness is required, but the same rules still apply (only a witness can be 16 or older).
COVID-19 How can I sign my Power of Attorney (POA) and have it witnessed if I am isolating?
POAs in England and Wales need to be signed by you in the physical presence of an independent witness, aged 18. But, your Certificate Provider needs to sign also (see our FAQs for further information). It is OK for your witness to also be your Certificate Provider.
If your Certificate Provider is not your witness, Office of the Public Guardian guidance states ‘the Certificate Provider must sign after you and can sign on the same day as you… or as soon as possible afterwards’.
If your Certificate Provider is not your witness you will need to send the POA document to your Certificate Provider, and have a telephone conversation with them prior to them signing.
Also, attorneys must sign the POA after the Certificate Provider, and so the document should then be forwarded to the attorneys at this point.
In Scotland your signature on the POA will need to be witnessed in the same way (see above), but a Certificate must also be provided and can only be given by a solicitor registered in Scotland, a UK medical doctor or a member of the Faculty of Advocates.
Several Which? members have contacted us to tell us ways they have been able to execute their documents, this includes:
Signing outdoors in the garden, with their witness(s) 2 metres away, then placing the document (inside an envelope for example) and stepping away so the witness(s) can approach and sign their part.
Signing through a window, with their witness(s) on the other side viewing our member signing the document, who then places the document (inside an envelope for example) before, passing it through a window so the witness(s) can then approach individually and sign their part, returning the document in the envelope.
Remember you and the witness(s) should always keep 2 metres apart and we recommend all parties wash their hands for 20 seconds before and afterwards, and use their own pen.