During lockdown, many of our clients were surprised to hear we could still look after their legal interests even though our offices were closed and the partners and staff were working from home.
Many of our clients contacted us during the lockdown to ask us about preparing a Will or a Power of Attorney and we were delighted to be able to assist them even though we couldn’t meet with them face to face.
It became very apparent from the beginning of the lockdown that certain things would have to change to allow us to properly take our clients’ instructions to prepare Wills and Powers of Attorney. In respect of Powers of Attorney, in particular, that means we are required to certify the mental capacity of the client signing the Power of Attorney immediately before it is signed. This was clearly impossible at the start of the lockdown.
In normal times we would meet with clients, take their instructions and draw up their Will and/or their Power of Attorney. We would then send the documents to them for approval and when that was done, we would invite them to sign the documents -and with a Power of Attorney, our client would come into our office or we would go to visit them and the Power of Attorney could be signed.
The lockdown prevented face to face meetings so that meant an alternative way had to be found to enable us to deliver this service for our clients.
When dealing with Wills, the signature of the testator has to be witnesses. However, any person mentioned as an executor or beneficiary in the Will cannot be a witness and with lockdown, it proved very difficult to have Wills properly witnessed but an independent witness.
Through a change in the regulations and the use of video technology we were able to take our clients’ instructions, explain the legal implications of Legal Rights and other aspects of the law and deal with the necessary witnessing and certification.
This has proved to be a convenient method of dealing with their affairs for many of our clients when they could give instructions and receive advice from the comfort of their own homes. We believe video meetings to be an excellent way forward should our client wish to deal with us in that way rather than having to come to our office or having us visit them.
We do not yet know whether the emergency provisions put in place allowing the remote witnessing of Will and certification of Powers of Attorney will remain – we certainly hope so because this has enabled us to look after our clients interests through this most difficult and challenging time.
If you would like to discuss making your Will or Power of Attorney, please get in touch with us.
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