Making Wills and Powers of Attorney without leaving home – Your questions answered
Quite understandably the coronavirus crisis has led to people wanting to get their affairs in order and Butcher & Barlow have seen a large increase in demand for Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney over the pat year.
Chris Hopkins, Head of our Private Client team and a specialist in Wills, Probate and Powers of Attorney answers some commonly asked questions regarding the preparation of a Will or Power of Attorney during this time of social distancing.
I thought that to get a solicitor to write a will, we’d have to meet in the office. Is that right?
Not at all. Even if Butcher & Barlow’s offices are not open for client visits, our team of lawyers are still working hard at home and are ready to write your will and/or power of attorney. When the pandemic began, will writers were listed as ‘Key Workers’, which means that the Government expects that the present situation shouldn’t stop wills being made.
Thank you, but how can I let my solicitor know what I want if we can’t meet?
It’s really not a problem. Just ring us on 0161 764 4062, or telephone your nearest branch (details on our web site www.butcher-barlow.co.uk). You can also email us at email@example.com or through the website. One of our lawyers will arrange with you an appointment by phone to discuss your requirements. If you wish we can have a video discussion, or if you prefer your solicitor will send you a proforma questionnaire in order to discover your needs.
What will my solicitor want to know?
We will take you through a tried and tested fact finding exercise. This, in brief, is designed to discover what assets you have to leave by will and whether in your situation your estate is likely to pay Inheritance Tax. You will be also asked questions including who you wish to be your executors and who you wish to benefit from your will. We are available to act as executors if required. We will look at your requirements for the upbringing of any young children. Further information can be found in this article: The Will Writing Process. This detailed discussion in many cases will take about 30 minutes and will enable your solicitor to prepare a draft will. A similar process will be followed if it’s a power of attorney that you need.
What happens then?
Your solicitor will promptly draw up the will and will either post or email it to you. You’ll be asked to confirm your approval. You might want to suggest changes which your solicitor will make, if necessary after a further discussion.
Ok, but how am I going to sign the will with social distancing still in force?
We will then send you a signature copy of your will with detailed guidance on how to get your will signed and witnessed. Two witnesses will need to be present, but since the lockdown, we are finding that clients are managing to organise this without breaking the rules. For example signing in their garden whilst two neighbours watch from a short distance, taking necessary hygiene precautions such as wearing gloves when signing. We can assist with this by video conference to make sure everything is done properly to ensure that the Will is valid.
I don’t have anyone who can act as witnesses. Can you provide them?
We will usually be able to arrange this if you are not far from our office. This will mean meeting you, with distancing, in the open air.
Who will store the will?
We are happy to do so without charge if you wish.
How long will the whole process take?
Not long, typically 2-3 weeks. Priority will be given in urgent situations.
Do not put off contacting us if you want to discuss any aspect of your personal affairs. Although we remain working remotely for the time being, our team of experts can still provide you with the advice and guidance you may need. Please do not hesitate to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or email your legal adviser directly.
Chris can be contacted on email at email@example.com or by phone on 07760 559 670.
To view Butcher & Barlow’s own working practices, please visit www.butcher-barlow.co.uk/news.
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