COVID-19 has seen an upsurge in people making wills, wanting to make sure their wishes are down on paper for their family and friends.
With people wanting to put their affairs in order quickly, expert solicitors have adapted the way they work, so they can comply with COVID-19 social distancing regulations and yet still provide a full professional and personal service which gives customers peace of mind.
Zoe Calway, director of leading legal firm Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, said: “Solicitors all over the country have adapted to ensure they can give clients the best, most professional, personal service possible – while at the same time making sure they comply with all the government regulations.
“We have been witnessing signatures by standing the required distance away from people’s homes and watching as they sign the will in the window. Then they leave it in an envelope in a safe place for us. We have had people leave them on a table in the garden, by plant pots, anywhere where it is safe.
“As professional solicitors we are always willing to go the extra mile for people to make sure people are getting exactly what they want. It’s all part of the service.”
Zoe warns of the pitfalls of people thinking that their solicitor might not be able to help them in the way that Cartmell Shepherd are doing – and therefore be attracted by making their wills with a purely online service.
Zoe said: “I would urge people to stop and think twice about a purely online wills service. It may be a cheaper price, but they may not be offering the same level of service that other solicitors would, and that can lead to problems further down the line.
“There are strict rules, for example, about how wills must be drawn up. And if those rules aren’t followed – such as regulations about signatures having to be witnessed – then the will can be declared invalid and in those instances people will have wasted their money.”
Without proper witnessing of signatures it could also be claimed that the person making the will was coerced into the wishes they made and was put under undue influence.
“There are also other things to consider as well which is why it is good to talk to a solicitor.” said Zoe. “You need to think about who has power of attorney if you are incapacitated. If you are in hospital for a period of time and incapable of making your own decisions who do you want to have the authority to make decisions on your behalf?”
“There’s also inheritance tax to consider. What assets do you have? Whose name are they in? Are you aware of tax liabilities of doing things in different ways? Who are you appointing as your executors?
“There are lots of questions and choices for people to consider. By talking to people and using our experience to ask the right questions we can gain a full understanding of everything people want to happen and make sure their wishes are carried out. We take personal pride in making sure everything is done properly, to give people peace of mind in these worrying times.”