As the Covid-19 pandemic is maturing, it is important that you continue to manage your personal legal affairs in the most effective way possible. There are certain formal procedures that you must follow to ensure that your will is legally valid to guarantee that your final wishes are executed exactly as you envision. Covid-19 has brought into focus the question of execution of Wills in Scotland and has forced unprecedented change in the solicitor-client relationship.
What is the legal requirement in Scotland for making a valid Will?
Witnesses and Signing:
In Scotland, the execution of your Will involves the granter and the witness. The granter is the person making the Will and they must sign the Will at the bottom of every page using their 'usual signature' in the presence of an adult witness (the witness must be over 16 years old). Ideally, the witness should watch the granter sign on every page. The witness must be independent (someone not a beneficiary in your Will and to whom you are not related) which is more difficult given the social distancing rules. The witness does not need to read the contents of the documents, merely witness the signing of it.
The witness must also be literate as they will need to sign the final page and provide their full name and address, along with the place and date of signing.
The Law Society Coronavirus Guidance
The Law Society of Scotland has published temporary guidance in relation to the signing of Wills. This guidance ensures that Wills can be finalised whilst adhering to the social distancing rules. In the event that you are unable to have an independent witness, a solicitor can now act as a witness via video technology such as Zoom or Facetime, providing that the solicitor is not an executor. Solicitors are now able to send the Will in the post for signing and arrange a video call. During the video call the solicitor should witness the granter signing on each page and you should then post the principal Will back to the solicitor who will then sign it as a witness. If your solicitor is an executor, the solicitor may invite another colleague into the video call who can act as your witness and the above process can be followed.
Get in touch
If you would do not currently hold a Will and you are interest in making a Will, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our Private Client team.