Keeping Calm and Carrying On: Wills & Probate Services during COVID-19
In these unprecedented times, the Private Client team here at Hodge Jones & Allen wishes good health to everyone with the hope that life will return to normal as soon as possible. In the interim, we are very much still dedicated to helping those who require assistance, particularly those at risk who require assistance with their Will or Probate.
Whilst emergency legislation has been put forward to the Ministry of Justice to relax rules on the witnessing of Wills there is no current update. Government guidance has required the masses to self-isolate and therefore we must all work around these restrictions the best we can in the circumstances.
As per Government advice, it is necessary to reduce the amount of contact we have with each other in order to lower the spread of the virus. This includes maintaining good hygiene habits and keeping those particularly at risk away from harm.
As a result we are able to take instruction via various forms of medium, including email, telephone and video conferencing. You will subsequently not need to risk your health by unnecessarily leaving your home.
It is easy to panic at the thought of your health being at risk and therefore it is important that you do not rush in giving your instructions. We are here to help and will guide, assist and help you to complete your Will at the earliest possible time.
In order for you to prepare to give us your instructions, you may wish to complete one of our Will questionnaires which will help you to consider the content of your Will and help us to understand your estate in a clearer way.
It is more important now than ever to remain in contact with loved ones. You may also wish to take this time to discuss your Will, wishes, assets and whether they would be willing to undertake the roles that you would like to appoint to them.
Our fees for Wills are very reasonable. Please ask us for a quote.
Normally it is good practice for a solicitor to oversee the signing of a Will, but in the current circumstances this is not practical and poses a risk to clients and staff.
Witnesses must not be beneficiaries of your Will or the spouse or civil partner of any beneficiary in your Will. They can be the same as your executors provided your executors do not benefit under the Will in any way.
The witnesses must:
- Be over the age of 18
- Have mental capacity
- Not be blind or partially blind
- Both be present when you sign (or at the least, within the line of sight)
- Be in your presence when you sign (or at least, within the line of sight)
We are able to post Wills to clients, whilst postal services remain active in order for you to sign and execute your Will at home. Alternatively an electronic copy can be provided to you to print at home if you have the facilities to do so. But, in answer to a few enquiries, wills must be in writing.
Guidance on signing will be provided with your Will and the Private Client team will be available to answer any questions that may arise.
It is the case that some clients live alone or with members of the family who will not be able to witness the Will. In this case, it may be required that you rely on neighbours who are willing to assist with the witnessing at a safe distance but in the line of sight. In doing so we remind clients to take every precaution to minimise risk to health. At present it is not possible to witness or sign a Will electronically.
If your Will does not require urgent witnessing, it may be advisable to wait until the government provides further guidance or relaxes restrictions. We will provide updates to clients on any changes to witnessing rules as they become apparent.
At this time the probate registries are still operating and therefore we are still able to provide probate services.
If you would like assistance please contact Hodge, Jones & Allen Solicitors and we would be happy to discuss the estate in question. Probate questionnaires can be provided if you would like to provide your instruction remotely.
Our thoughts are with everyone during this difficult time and we will continue to provide our services to help put minds at ease. If you would like assistance or to discuss your matter please email firstname.lastname@example.org or ask to speak with the private client team on 0808 252 5231.