Given the unprecedented circumstances that the world is currently witnessing, there are a number of questions that have been raised in respect of dealing with and making sure your personal affairs are in order. We have used this opportunity to answer certain concerns or queries that you may have.
Q: I need to put in place a Will. However, I am concerned about not being able to meet with a solicitor to discuss my Will or have the Will signed. Is there still a way I can do this whilst I am in isolation?
A: At Jacksons Law Firm it is business as usual and our staff have adapted to working from home. Even though face to face meetings are currently not possible, this does not mean that work has stopped. We have simply embraced the technology we have at our hands! We are now organising video call appointments to meet with clients virtually through Skype, Whatsapp or Facetime. If you do not have access to these platforms, we can still undertake all appointments by telephone. Our experienced solicitors are still on hand to provide advice to you and your family, whether a meeting takes place face to face or through technology.
All personal documentation can be sent out to you in the post, including your final Will. All documents will need to be signed and witnessed. The current circumstances may make it difficult to have your Will witnessed by two independent witnesses. However, we have plans in place! We are advising clients accordingly on how to meet the requirements and have their Wills validly witnessed. If, in your circumstances it is not possible to have your Will signed in line with the current government rules on safe distancing, then execution will need be postponed until the earliest possible opportunity once the current restrictions are lifted. However, even if this is the case you can certainly use this time to give instructions for the preparation of your Will and then have your Will ready for signing as soon as practically possible.
Q: The current situation has prompted me to review my existing Will. I want to make sure its contents are still in line with my wishes for my estate. How can I do this in the current circumstances?
A: This can still be done easily and quickly. Don’t worry if you do not have a copy of your existing Will. We can obtain this for you if we are holding this in our deed storage. At Jacksons we offer a free 20-minute Will review appointment. During this time we can run through your existing Will and advise of anything within the Will that needs to be changed or updated to either comply with changes in the law or in accordance with your wishes.
It is important to review your Will. Especially if the Will was made many years ago and your family circumstances has since changed. If a gift under your Will fails, or your Will does not dispose of your entire estate, it will pass through the intestacy rules. This will dictate which relatives are to inherit these assets, rather than the assets being distributed in line with your wishes.
We will still be able to review your Will, even if it has not been drafted by Jacksons. All you need to do is email a picture of it to us.
Q: I am concerned that if my elderly relatives are taken ill or need hospital treatment, I would not be able to make sure their wishes regarding medical treatment are heard.
A: If you, or someone you know, would like to appoint an individual to make decisions on your behalf or provide assistance later in life this can be done by putting in place Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPAs”). There are two types of LPAs, a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney and a Property & Financial Affairs Power of Attorney, both of which we are still preparing for our clients and can put in place for you. These documents will appoint whoever you choose to be your attorney. They will either assist you in making decisions, or make decisions on your behalf, if you lose mental capacity.
Please note however, that the LPAs can only be used once it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. This takes around 8 to 10 weeks. If you would like a more short-term option you may consider putting in place a Living Will or Advanced Directive. This can be used if you lose mental capacity and once it has been signed. We can provide advice on a case by case basis if you do have concerns in this regard.
Q: I need to put in place a Will urgently. Can I still do this given the inevitable delays due to isolation?
A: We review matters on a case by case basis. We will endeavour to do everything we can if your Will needs to be put in place urgently.
Our Private Client team is currently offering a 50% discount to all NHS workers who require assistance with renewing or writing their Wills.
If you would like further information or arrange an appointment, please contact Emily Robertson or Rebecca Webster. Email – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Alternatively, call our reception on 01642 356500 and ask to speak to Emily or Rebecca.