PEOPLE making Wills should take care to ensure they seek the right advice, ideally from a qualified, regulated and insured expert, Thursfields Solicitors has advised.

The advice from the city law firm comes as the government is urgently looking at changing requirements around witnessing Wills in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Currently a Will must be signed by the testator in the presence of two independent witnesses, but the Ministry of Justice is consulting with the Law Society to consider relaxing the signing requirements.

Sam Thornton, an associate solicitor in the Wills and Estates department at Thursfields, said: “While anything that makes putting a Will in place more accessible and safer is to be welcomed, the last thing the public needs is to be exposed to uncertainty and risk.

“The government recently designated ‘solicitors acting in the execution of wills’ as key workers during the COVID-19 restrictions, but this did not extend to will writers generally. For years it has been possible for anyone to set up as a ‘Will writer’ – with little requirement for training, regulation or insurance.

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“Does this key worker guidance in favour of wills solicitors mean we could we be about to see a relaxation of the formalities for signing a Will when self-isolating, but only where a solicitor is acting?

“Only time will tell, but in the meantime, however quickly and simply people want to make their Wills, we would recommend that they instruct a properly qualified, regulated and insured expert.

“This will ensure that everything conforms to the highest quality and that loved ones are not left to deal with potentially costly or unexpected issues.”

Thursfields has been celebrating as managing director Nick O’Hara has just celebrated 41 years at the company.

He began his career as a trainee solicitor at Thursfields and since then has held many different roles, climbing the ladder to lead the company since 2008.

Mr O’Hara said: “My original contract of employment at Thursfields required me to own a suit comprising a black coat and waistcoat with striped trousers.

"You may be forgiven for thinking this was a contract from Dickensian times, but in fact this was the state of play in 1970s law firms."