COVID-19 – Making a Will under lockdown

 

COVID-19 – Making a Will Under Lockdown

Can I make a new Will during the lockdown?

Under the Wills Act 2007, one of the requirements for making a valid Will is that two witnesses must be present to see the Will-maker sign the Will and then must sign together in the Will-maker’s presence.  The two witnesses must also be independent, meaning they must not be beneficiaries under the terms of the Will.  If a witness is a beneficiary or the partner of a beneficiary, that beneficiary is not entitled to take any bequest made to them under the Will.

The witness requirements therefore pose a problem during the lockdown period as most Will-makers won’t have two independent witnesses in their family bubble.  Witnesses are likely to be available however where, for example, the Will-maker is in a flat with others or is in a residential care facility or hospital.

There is a solution however.  If you wish to make a Will during the lockdown period, or update an existing Will, please contact us at kim@taylorshaw.co.nz.  Kim or one of our team will then contact you to take instructions and draft your new Will.  We can send it to you by email (or by post if required). 

In the absence of being able to sign the Will in front of the required witnesses, we are recommending that clients just complete signing of the Will without any witnesses. After you’ve signed your Will, if you have a scanner, you can scan it and email it back to us.  If you don’t have scanner, you can take photos of the pages with your smartphone and email those to us.

When the lockdown is lifted we can arrange for a new copy of the Will to be correctly signed and witnessed. Where the Will-maker dies before the Will can be correctly signed, we can use the interim version we hold on file to make an application to the High Court, under the provisions of the Wills Act, for an Order that the Will is valid.