Making legal documents in lockdown

May 1, 2020

Making a will and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is seeing a surge in popularity amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. Here, Paul Nickalls, head of wills, trusts and estates at Sintons, discusses how the law firm is making it possible for clients to continue to make such vital documents despite social distancing and ‘stay at home’ rule

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the world, with every day bringing rising numbers of new diagnoses – and, tragically, numbers of fatalities – there has been a surge in the levels of people looking to get their personal affairs in order.

By making a will or Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), growing numbers of people across the country are making provision for their loved ones, giving them certainty and peace of mind that their wishes will be carried out in their absence.

Ian Bond, chair of the Law Society’s Wills and Equity Committee, recently reported that the number of clients wishing to complete wills and LPAs is up by 30 per cent – but with the country in lockdown, the challenge was how to enable people to safely and legally draw up such crucial documents.

Having been inundated with enquiries from new clients wishing to make a will or LPA, or existing clients who wanted to update them, Sintons has responded with new ways of working that enable us to deliver the service our clients need, with the legal excellence for which we are renowned.

Our award-winning team of experts remain on hand to assist. To keep our staff and clients as safe as possible, the majority of the team is now working remotely, but we have introduced numerous measures to ensure that disruption to client service is kept to an absolute minimum.

We have designed packs specifically for clients who want to make a will or LPA – or both at a discounted price – but, due to COVID-19, are unable to leave their home. For details of this free pack, please email us at info@sintons.co.uk.

Of course, we can also take instructions over the telephone or by videoconferences, such as Skype or Zoom.

As well as advising on the contents of your will and LPA, we can provide guidance on how the documents should be correctly signed and witnessed. As the country has been in lockdown since March 23, with gatherings of more than two people (excluding those in the same household) banned and the strict instruction being to ‘stay at home’, this is clearly at odds with the law regarding the signing of a will.

Under the Wills Act 1837, a will must be signed by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses who are present at the same time. For many clients, especially the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, asking them to sign a document in the presence of two or more people will be of great concern.

The Sintons team can offer clear, practical guidance on how your legal documents should
be signed. We are keen to ensure that our clients remain safe, but at the same time, we can provide you with the reassurance you need that your affairs are in order.

All our legal advisors are members of professional bodies such as Solicitors for the Elderly and STEP. These bodies, which liaise with the Law Society and the Ministry of Justice, regularly provide lawyers with advice and guidance on the signing of wills and LPAs in light of the ever-changing COVID-19 situation.

The team at Sintons are, therefore, monitoring the position carefully to ensure that our clients are given the most accurate and up-to-date advice. Please speak to us for any advice or guidance you need.

Sintons
Sintons has worked closely with the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for a number of years. Now, more than ever, we truly value the hard work of the NHS. Sintons has always been proud to offer all members of staff in the Trust discount on the preparation of a will and we will continue to do so in these unprecedented times. We would strongly encourage staff working in the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Hospitals to contact us – we will be as flexible as possible to ensure your needs are met.

www.sintons.co.uk
@SintonsLaw
info@sintons.co.uk

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