We are committed to supporting our clients through the legal issues that the Corona 19 pandemic presents.
The Coronavirus pandemic has unsurprisingly caused many of us to reflect upon our life planning in terms of Wills, Powers of Attorney and Advance Direction. The “lock down” is creating practical problems in terms of creating these vital documents.
As we all know communication is often about more than simply taking a “face value” account of a client’s instruction. The opportunity of a “face-to-face”discussion enables a more complete understanding of a client’s circumstances to be gained and minimising the risk of mis-understanding.
We are making use of Facetime, WhatsApp, etc., and other technology to permit something more akin to a traditional Solicitor and client meeting.
Our job as your Solicitor includes:-
Making sure that we have properly understood your instructions. We are likely to need to ask you questions to be absolutely certain that we have fully understood these.
We need to assess that you are making your Will with full capacity – that you understand the extent of your assets, and the potential claims by relatives and dependants, the effect of your proposed Will and that you are of sound mind. This is to protect your estate against potential claims in the event of your death. The number of those claims has risen greatly in recent years as more complex modern family structures become more common.
We need to be sure that you are making your Will from your own free will and not because of inappropriate pressure being placed on you.
Further difficulties exist in relation to the execution of documents. The Government is urgently consulting on changing the law (which dates back to the Wills Act 1837!) but which requires Wills to be signed and witnessed by someone in their presence – the witness must not be a beneficiary of the Will.
We believe that we have solutions to these problems:-
· Taking instructions by telephone supplemented by video wherever possible.
· Sending you a draft Will with a clear explanatory letter via e-mail where possible to save time.
· Following this with a further telephone/video call to ensure that you fully understand the document and that it meets your needs.
· Dealing with execution via “social distancing”. This involves your signing the Will wearing disposable gloves and using your own pen on one side of a door or window – whilst we witness from the other side. You place the Will on the opposite side of the window or door and we collect to witness.
We would be pleased to help you or your friends or family in these difficult times.