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How will the Coronavirus outbreak affect making a will or lasting power of attorney?
Like many areas of society, we are finding ways to continue to provide the services you may require, such as making a will or lasting power of attorney (LPA). Carole Haestier, a Solicitor in our Wills, Trusts and Probate team discusses how we can still help you with these services.
Can I still make a Will?
Yes, you can. Making a Will is usually a face to face process. This includes checking that the person wanting to make the Will has the mental capacity necessary to make one and is not being put under undue pressure by anyone else.
The law requires that a Will must be signed in the presence of two independent witnesses. This is not readily compatible with the current social distancing measures.
The Law Society has produced some guidance as to how to deal with Will instructions during the Coronavirus lock-down which you can read below:
It is however, up to each law firm to make its own judgement on how best to assist its clients, current and new, in the current climate.
What measures have we put in place to help you make a will?
Our lawyers are all working remotely, adhering to social distancing guidelines, to protect our clients and staff. We are completely set up online and our technology allows us to continue to take your instructions.
We can take Will instructions by telephone or by video conferencing where appropriate and then e-mail to you a draft will for you to print at home. We will also send you detailed instructions on how best to execute your Will.
Usually we would recommend:
- Asking two neighbours to help you whilst still complying with social distancing rules.
- You can open your front door and ask your neighbours to bring their own pens and gloves.
- Your witnesses must see you sign the Will, which you can leave on your windowsill or doorstep.
- You would then step away and ask your neighbours to pick up and sign the Will using gloves and their own pens whilst respecting the 2 metres social distancing rules.
You can send us a photo of your Will so that we can check that it has been executed properly. We would recommend that you keep your Will somewhere safe in your home.
Can I still make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
Yes. LPAs are also usually prepared after a face to face meeting and signed at a subsequent meeting. Again this is to check that the person making the LPA has adequate mental capacity and is not being coerced to sign the LPA by another person. Your lawyer will usually provide the certificate confirming that you have capacity to understand and sign your LPA.
We have adopted a similar approach to Wills for the preparation of LPAs.
Where possible, we will take instructions by telephone or video conference and ask you to send us your instructions by post or email which we will follow up with a phone call. We will then draft your LPAs and e-mail them to you to print at home. You will only need one witness and we suggest asking a friend or neighbour to do this using the method described above.
You will then need to send us the LPA so that we can arrange to send the other relevant sections to your attorneys for signature.
Once all relevant sections of the LPA have been signed, we will send it to the Office of the Public Guardian for registration as normal. The OPG remain open and able to deal with registrations during the lockdown.
Will any existing Wills or LPAs I have be affected by the current pandemic?
No. Existing wills and LPAs will not be affected by the current situation.
I am the Executor of a Will and need help with Estate Administration, can you help me?
Yes. Again with the use of video conferencing, telephone, e-mail and post we can assist you as normal.
Banks and financial instructions remain open, enabling us to deal with account enquiries and where possible estate agents are providing desktop valuations for properties.
The Probate Registries are still dealing with applications and HMRC has not relaxed the deadlines for submitting Inheritance Tax returns and payment of Inheritance Tax. It is still important to ensure that the estate is administered in a timely fashion.
We continue to offer a full administration service and our Grant only service, details of which are available to read here.
We are still here to make your life, less complicated. Get in touch today so we can help with any queries you may have around making a will, lasting power of attorney or estate administration. You can contact Carole directly here or use the enquiry form here or in the sidebar of this page. Alternatively, you can call 01453 847200.