More people than ever are worrying about what would happen to their estates after they have died, the current pandemic has heightened everyone’s awareness and our own mortality is no longer a taboo subject.
Most people understand that making a Will is a good idea, but many people also put it on the back burner of their lives, making a Will can be difficult because it means thinking about our own death and what will come after.
It is still possible to make Wills and I have had the honour of helping many clients to do exactly this during these days of social distancing. Face to face meetings in the usual manner are clearly not possible, so we discuss things over the phone and draft Wills are sent by e mail and then discussed over the phone. I take great care to ensure that clients understand fully the different options regarding their estates and how Will Trusts work. It takes time and I make sure that no-one feels rushed in any way. My clients must always understand the legal documents they sign, otherwise I have failed in my duty as their solicitor.
Wills must be signed in accordance with the correct legal procedure, otherwise they are simply null and void. I sometimes send Wills to clients for them to sign, we discuss the procedure and I send “mock-up” Wills for them to see how the signed Wills should look. This is only for clients who live too far for me to travel, for example in Morecombe or Walsall.
I would always prefer to oversea the signing myself, to ensure that it is carried out correctly.
Signing At Home
I often see clients at home to sign the Wills and I have travelled quite far to do this, I’m not quite sure the reasons why but I seem to have been out to Ormskirk a lot in the last couple of months and I am getting quite familiar with it. It’s a lovely part of the world, quite different to south Liverpool.
Two witnesses are always required, so a friend or neighbour will need to call round, clients arrange this in advance of my visit). After my clients have checked the Wills are correct (remember that this is only after the Wills have been understood and approved), each Will is dated and signed by the client and then the first witness signs and writes in their name and address and then I sign, and I have an official stamp with my professional details. The Will is the complete, we call this an executed Will.
Signing At The Office
Sometimes, clients live locally and wish to come to the office to sign the Wills. This is fine and we are open, but the door is locked due to the current rules. In this case, I still act as one of the witnesses and the other witness will either be Catherine Higgins or Brenda Wai (whom I am delighted has just returned to work). The signing takes place in the little vestibule to the office entrance and through the glass door.
So, in summary, you can still make Wills to organise your affairs and give you that all important peace of mind.