The Law Society has reported an increase of at least 30 per cent in the number of people seeking to write new Wills or grant Power of Attorney following fears over the number of Coronavirus victims since the outbreak of the pandemic.
This has created an uncertainty among many people leaving them concerned about their future and the potential impact on them and their families.
Natasha and Chloé from the Private Client team at Paul Crowley & Co have provided answers to some of the common questions our clients are asking about Wills and Power of Attorney at this difficult time.
Why do I need a Will?
You need a Will so that in the event of your death the proceeds of your estate are distributed in accordance with your wishes.
Your will instructs everyone how you would like your affairs to be conducted when you die, this ensures that your estate which includes properties, investments, shares, savings, as well as any personal possessions are passed on to and shared amongst your loved ones.
What will happen if I don’t make a Will?
We would advise against this. If you were to die without a valid will, you will be ‘intestate’ and will have no influence in how your estate is divided up.
Your estate will be governed by the rules of intestacy and it is this that will determine how your estate is to be divided up amongst specific family members.
The division of the proceeds of your estate could bare no resemblance to the people who you wish to benefit, it is possible that the benefactors of your estate could further lose out as the rules of intestacy may not be the most tax-efficient way to distribute your estate.
Can I make a Will if self-isolating with symptoms of Coronavirus?
Yes you can, Paul Crowley & Co have adapted its Will writing procedures in line with the Government’s social distancing guidelines to protect their staff and clients from any unnecessary health risk.
Natasha or Chloé from our Private Client Wills & Probate department will take instruction over the telephone, or face to face via FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom or Skype. A draft of the clients Will can then be forwarded for approval by post or email.
To validate your Will, the person making the Will (the Testator) must sign the Will in direct line of sight of the two witnesses and likewise the two witnesses must countersign the Will in your presence.
The Coronavirus social distancing policy poses a challenge for those self-isolating as the witnesses must be in your presence and stand at a safe distance of two meters, our solicitors will be able to explain to you how this can be achieved in a safe manner.
During the Coronavirus lockdown, can I update my will?
Clients have contacted us during the pandemic asking is it possible to update their will when in lockdown, the answer is yes they can.
A minor amendment can be made to an existing Will by attaching a Codicil, this is a legal document that changes specific provisions of a last will and testament but leaves all the other provisions untouched.
The implementation and signing of a Codicil would be carried out in a similar manner to the signing of a Will by following the Government’s social distancing guidelines, again our solicitors will be able to explain how this can be achieved without any unnecessary health risk.
I am currently self-isolating, can I still make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Yes. As with Wills, we are able to speak to you on the phone or face to face via FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom or Skype.
Again if you speak with Natasha or Chloé from our Private Client Wills & Probate department, they will advise and guide you and explain in a clear and easy to understand manner the process involved. The Lasting Power of Attorney documents will be drafted for you and forwarded to you by post or email. We will discuss with you to arrange the signing of the documents in a way that is safe for both you and our staff.
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