Making Wills and LPA’s during the Coronavirus Crisis
The Law Society recently revealing that the number of Britons seeking to make new Wills has risen by 30% following the coronavirus outbreak, we thought it would be useful to answer some questions, which many of our clients have raised so far during this period of self- isolation and UK lockdown.
How can I change my Will with your offices being closed during the crisis?
In the past few weeks clients have contacted us thinking it was impossible to get their affairs in order, but we’ve come up with solutions to ensure we continue to provide a vital service throughout these uncertain times.
Many of our staff at Parry Carver are working remotely from home and have been for some weeks. We are able to take instructions for new Wills or updating existing Wills by telephone or video call. Just telephone our Wellington office on 01952 641291 to make the arrangements. We will make sure everything is finalised as quickly as possible.
If I am unable to come to your office, how can I get a will witnessed during lockdown?
Normally, Parry Carver offer to all client’s who are making a Will the opportunity to come into the office to sign there Will. This allows us to explain the Will before signing and helps us satisfy the legal requirements for the Will to signed by the will-maker in the presence of two witnesses, who are usual members of staff.
During the crisis, we are now offering telephone appointments to explain the Will to clients, before signing. We are also sending Wills to clients for signing at home and we are suggesting clients make arrangements with neighbours or friends to stand outside their home to witness the signing of the Will. It is important that clients and witnesses observe the social distancing requirements. Once the Will has been signed we suggest that the Will is returned to our office, so we can ensure that the Will has been signed and dated in the correct manner.
Can I and my chosen witnesses electronically sign the Will?
No, this is not possible. There is a long-standing concern that e-signatures increase the scope for abuse and influencing factors, whereas a physical signature clearly identifies an individual, with witnesses supporting this. It’s important that Wills follow the legal requirements to ensure they are valid.
What should I do if I’m struggling to find people who are happy to be my witness?
Some people may be concerned about becoming witnesses and whether they can leave their home for this reason. It is a grey area, however, the Government has said those who are leaving their homes to help a vulnerable person are able to do so. It seems reasonable for someone getting their affairs in order at a time when there’s so much uncertainty falls within this category, as long as social distancing and NHS advice are adhered to.
Can I still get make a Lasting Power of Attorney to protect my wishes?
It usually takes between eight and ten weeks to register a Lasting Power of Attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian, at which time it comes into effect.
Whilst you are waiting to the LPA for Financial affairs to registered, you can put in place a general power of attorney and that can be used straight away and can remain in force whilst you have your mental capacity.
A Health and Welfare LPA can only be used if you lack mental capacity. If you have concerns in this area it is certainly worth getting the process under way.
Whilst you are waiting for the LPA for Health and Welfare to be registered, you can prepare an Advanced Decision – sometimes referred to as a Living Will, it can give instructions as to your wishes and comes into force the moment it is signed.