Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorneys:  a time to reflect about your loved ones and your own welfare

Surge of interest in making wills

Since the outbreak of the corona virus pandemic, there has been a great surge in the demand for making new Wills or reviewing existing ones.  This has been as a result of people feeling vulnerable on the grounds of age, health and also having time and opportunity to review their family affairs.  Having a Will in place is the best way for you to ensure that you protect the inheritance for your partner and children giving you peace of mind that your wishes have been taken care of.

We have a previous article on our website – Why make a Will? – that sets out some important points for you to consider when making your Will.

Giving instructions

Whilst we are not currently able to have face to face meetings with our Clients, according to our usual practice, we are pleased that we have very experienced staff working from home who are available to discuss our Clients’ personal circumstances and concerns; working out relevant solutions to provide the facility for taking instructions and preparing their Wills.  We are equipped to provide the same prompt and efficient level of service to our Clients as we usually do from our office.

We are able to send draft Wills by email, post or other appropriate methods to our Clients for approval and the final versions are sent in the original form by post for signature.

Concerns about signing Wills

A Will needs to be signed in the presence of two independent witnesses who are in no way benefitting from the Will.  All three individuals must be present at the same time.  This requirement can cause concern to some people in the current climate of self-isolation and social distancing.

The Law Society and the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP) are currently lobbying the Government to relax the witnessing requirements for Wills.  However, unless and until changes are made to the legislation, we must proceed with the current law regarding signing of Wills in the presence of two witnesses.

COVID -19 should not prevent you from making a Will because the signing of a Will can take place in an open area, for example in a garden or in front of the house.  Those signing would need to remember to maintain the required distance and consider using gloves and their own pens.  Once signed they can put the Will in an envelope before removing their gloves and  it would be wise to take care not to touch their own face and wash their hands properly.

Another person signing on behalf of the Testator

In certain cases where the person making the Will is unable to physically sign the Will, the document can be prepared with the relevant wording to allow another person to sign on his/her behalf but the need for the two individuals to act as witnesses would remain the same.

Please note that we offer proper guidance regarding the requirements on signing Wills.  We also take great care in checking that your Will has been properly executed in accordance with the requirements of the law and provide such confirmation in writing.

Lasting Powers of Attorney for a) Financial Affairs and b) Health and Welfare

Apart from Wills, you should also give consideration to having Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, appointing people of your choice to act as your Attorney(s) in the unfortunate event that you are unable to manage your financial affairs.  This could be due to mental or physical incapacity which could be even for a short time.  If you do not have such a document, then your family would need to apply to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a Deputy.  This is a very cumbersome process which takes a long time and can be expensive as well.   Once the Deputy has been appointed, then the Court would monitor all records of the Deputy relating to the management of your affairs.  Needless to say, such a situation might cause your family a lot of anxiety.  The same would apply if you are running a business.

In addition to Lasting Powers of Attorney for Financial Affairs, it would be wise to have a Lasting Power of Attorney regarding your health and welfare issues which might avoid possible friction between members of your family in connection to decisions to be taken on your behalf in such matters.

Please feel free to contact us should you wish to either make a new Will or revise an existing one.  Our Wills specialist, Saida Siddiqui, is here to assist.

Telephone us on 020 7723 3040