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Planning for the Future at a Time of Crisis

Rosemarie Sharp , Senior Partner writes on the importance of planning for your family during the pandemic and why a will is so important

Putting your affairs in order   

Covid-19  has plunged the Country into a crisis which most of us would have  regarded as unimaginable prior to March of this year. We all watched  the events unfold in a distant world of China and felt it unlikely to have any significant impact on our Country. Even as we began to contemplate  bulk buying of food few of us believed that we would end up in world of isolating, self distancing,furloughing and no holidays. And for many people there has been a real risk as a result of contraction of the virus or heightened risk that their future health, their lives and those of their families  are in danger. That risk and fear as we confront our mortality  brings with it an urgent need to get our affairs in order. 

A will for so many people at this time has been vitally important , something which was not lost on the Government as it designated Solicitors who undertake this as key workers . Solicitors including those in our practice have risen to that challenge and we have throughout the crisis work hard  to find ways of achieving the needs of clients while observing so far as we can the rules of social distancing and self isolation . This has been no small task as we have devised ways of taking instructions other than our traditional method of a face to face interview and then sought  to deal with the very vexed issue of signatures and witnesses. All wills must be signed by the person making the will in front of two witnesses who must be able to see (witness ) the signature taking place and then sign themselves in front of the person making the will and each other. In a self isolating situation this is a monumental task. Ingenuity  came to the fore and clients have dealt with the issue in gardens, on garden walls, , through windows or patio doors, on car bonnets gazing through the windscreens or across the drive.  

Very conscious of the impact of wrongly signed wills we have been particularly careful in checking  the wills we have prepared in this way to ensure that they include everything the client wanted and needs and that the signatures have been properly placed and we hope that we have in providing this service provided real assistance to our clients in a difficult time.  

But why is this so important? 

Remarkably  a large percentage of the population do not have wills and we have lost count of the number of times we a have had to explain to clients that having a lost a partner or a relative they have cared for  over the years, or a loved step child or even  spouse from whom they thought they would inherit ,that the laws of  intestacy which govern what happens if there is no will or if the will is flawed will not allow  them to inherit from that estate. Such a loss following on from a tragic and unexpected Covid-19 death creating financial insecurity and even the potential  loss of a home is unconscionable in such difficult times.   

And why do we need a solicitor to do this ?   

 Invalid wills created with good intention at difficult times can only add  to the enormity of a crisis of this kind. Simple mistakes or omissions , muddled wording or even a simple clerical error could result in the whole meaning and therefore the validity of the will being lost.  Solicitors spend years training  in their different fields so that they can provide you with the expertise of their knowledge backed by professional regulations and professional insurance. For something so important why would you not take advantage of that especially when the fees for wills from most legal practices are extremely competitive and affordable.   

That very skill allows you to take advice on planning for your families future including issues surrounding long term care , asset management , planning your families support when you are not there, ensuring that your assets pass to the successors you choose , mitigating  taxes on death , taking care of businesses and property, setting up trusts,  and dealing with   funeral arrangements. Alongside this you can discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney and transfer of your property during your life time.  With professional advice you can effectively deal with your complicated family arrangements such as second families, partners, step children , parents , children and even specifying those you do not want to include. Your  advisor will consider all of this and carefully explain the impact and risk of putting in place your wishes. A whole lot of advice for a fixed fee from an expert. 

We cannot remove the risk of the pandemic but we can certainly reduce some of the risks that it brings with it. 

Posted in: wills, probate

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