The Covid outbreak has led us all having to adapt to different social and working practices. It has also led to many of us considering our mortality and (finally) getting round to that New Year’s resolution of getting our affairs in order. Since lockdown commenced there has certainly been an increase in enquiries about and people preparing or updating their wills. Preparing a will, as many of us know, allows you to decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death. So should you consider an online will?
One of the working practices in this area being adapted whilst socially distancing is creating an online will – either personally, through will writers (for which there is no formal qualification necessary) or solicitors. On the face of it, this may seem like a very quick, straight forward practice and will often be cheaper than traditional methods. It is likely you will require to answer a set of straight forward questions through an online prepopulated form, the will is then computer generated in accordance with your answers and emailed or posted to you for checking, having been reviewed by a will writer or solicitor before issue to you. This will usually attract a low fixed fee (which will be based on a simple straightforward will) any variance from a simple will is likely to attract an additional fee.
Being able to adapt and consider online practices is, of course, crucial at this time. We have all had to adapt in one way or another. Many people considering preparing (or updating) their will still want that face-to-face contact and the comfort of knowing the person they are speaking with. This can often be the case for vulnerable clients, older age clients or clients who just do not like to use technology or who are not “tech savvy”. Although this may seem impossible due to the current lockdown measures a personal and bespoke service can continue to be provided at this time. This can easily be managed by telephone and video appointments.
To be valid a will requires to be witnessed by an independent adult witness which has caused difficulties for those who live alone. Again, there are various ways your solicitor can assist – a video call or even a personal attendance to your home (socially distanced of course) can be arranged. We have recently had a home visit with our solicitor in the client’s garden, providing the client with instructions on signing their will whilst on the phone.
Families are more complex now than they have ever been and it is important to ensure that your solicitor knowns about your personal and family circumstances when preparing your will to ensure a personal and bespoke document is prepared for you and meets your needs. The law surrounding inheritance can be complex. You may, on the face of it, think your affairs are simple and straightforward but may not have considered important factors such as inheritance tax, a child under 18 benefiting, a beneficiary who is disabled or vulnerable, a “black sheep child”, guardians to children, digital assets, unmarried co-habitant and, in Scotland, the entitlement to Legal Rights. Sometimes with the complexities of families now (second marriages etc.) it can be useful to simply have relaxed and informal chat to your solicitor to discuss the family background and any worries or concerns you have.
Another advantage of continuing face-to-face contact is that legal documents are often thought of as overly complex or full of legal terms. At TC Young it is important to us that our clients are receiving a personal service and that documents are explained in “plain English” terms. Our solicitors continue to be available to discuss your personal circumstances whilst working from home. Should you wish to speak with one of our solicitors about preparing a will or updating your current will, a member of our Private Client Team will be happy to assist.