Demand for wills surges 30 percent as elderly brace coronavirus
Demand for wills surges by 70 per cent as elderly and vulnerable brace for the onset of coronavirus
- Law firms see sudden rise in number of elderly seeking to write new wills
- Mostly people undergoing health treatment ‘putting their affairs in order’
- Lawyers also using skype, facetime and email to minimise face-to-face contact
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Law firms have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people writing new wills and granting power of attorney in the face of fears over the coronavirus pandemic, it has emerged.
Requests have risen by at least 70 per cent in the last month according to the figures of some law firms, with the elderly and 1.5 million vulnerable individuals said to be behind the spike in queries.
However, key workers including NHS doctors and police officers have also been told to ‘put their affairs in order’ as they fight on the frontline of the pandemic.
Requests have risen by at least 70 per cent in the last month according to the figures of some law firms, with the elderly and 1.5 million vulnerable individuals said to be behind the spike in queries (stock photo)
Will writing by telephone has also been offered by some firms, to minimise contact, although legally two people still need to physically witness the legal document being signed.
Ian Bond, chair of the Law Society’s wills and equity committee, said his Black Country firm Talbots Law had seen a ‘unprecedented’ spike in demand.
‘We’re now at a 70 per cent on what we’re doing. I’ve spoken to so many different solicitors in the Black Country area (which is where we are based) but also nationwide and they are all seeing an uptake too,’ Mr Bond told MailOnline.
‘We are getting quite a lot of people who are elderly and in the Government’s “vulnerable” category, but we’re also quite a lot of key workers and NHS staff.
Will writing by telephone has also been offered by some firms, to minimise contact, although legally two people still need to physically witness the legal document being signed (stock photo)
‘Not only doctors and nurses but also other people like police and the fire brigade who are being told they, as people at risk, should be getting their affairs in order.
‘We’re taking instructions via skype, facetime, email, zoom conferencing; whatever means we can communicate with our client we’re communicating with them.
‘We’re getting the instructions and then we are emailing documents or printing them so they can have them. The one thing we can’t do is go out and see people, especially those in isolation.
Government guidelines were recently updated to include legal representative and solicitors ‘acting in connection with the execution of wills’ with the right to travel for work.
Talbots Law have been ‘doing a lot remotely’ during the current surge in clients, but have come across a few situations where staff are still having to pay home visits.
‘There are certain circumstances where we’ve got people in our team travelling to clients but keeping within health guidelines.
‘We’ve had them standing on patios shouting through windows where clients just don’t have the technology or the ability to deal with it over the phone or the internet.’
However, rules in place since Victorian times that dictate wills must be witnessed by two people other than spouses and direct beneficiaries have caused a dilemma for the industry due to self-isolating couples and those most at risk.
Mr Bond added that relaxing rules so that only one person would need to witness a legal document during the pandemic would help solve the obstruction.
‘It would be helpful if some of these processes could be relaxed and speeded up to make it easier and quicker for the public,’ Mr Bond told the Telegraph.
The Law Society have contacted the Ministry of Justice over potential changes to the law.
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