Writing a Will is a task that most people know is important. We know that putting a Will in place saves our family and loved ones from a great deal of anxiety and trouble after you have passed away. There is never a situation where not having a Will is a better plan than having one. But you may be wondering how to write a Will without leaving your home, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Will is something that never seems to make it to the top of the ToDo list. In fact, most surveys put the number of UK adults without a Will at about 60-65 percent. Of those that do have a Will, many are not kept up-to-date.
But we are now living in very unusual and uncertain times. During the COVID-19 pandemic an increasing number of people are finally getting Will writing off their To Do list. At LegalWills.co.uk we have seen a dramatic surge over the last 8 months in the number of people preparing their Will.
But although COVID-19 has made people more aware of the importance of writing a Will , it has presented it’s own challenges with tiered lockdowns and family bubbles.
But there has been some changes in the law to help people prepare their Will during a pandemic. So the question remains:
Is it possible to write a Will without leaving your home?
We are in the midst of a very strange time with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are being asked to “self-isolate”, some people are being quarantined, and thoughts are turning to estate planning and getting one’s affairs in order.
We get this question a lot: “Can you let me know how to make a Will for my parents, or an elderly neighbour?” You may have a friend or family member who needs a Will, but they are not very good with computers. You have heard horror stories about the blank DIY Will Kits and how they don’t produce quality final documents. Surely there must be another option.
You may also be thinking about creating a Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs, or a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Wellfare. Perhaps you’re even considering an Advance Directive.
You may not want to book an appointment with a solicitor. You certainly don’t want strangers coming to your door (or your elderly parent’s door) offering to write a Will. Is it possible to prepare documents for somebody else without an appointment, and without leaving one’s home?
Let’s be clear from the outset. The person that you intend to prepare the Will for must have testamentary capacity. It’s one thing for them to not like computers, but if they are struggling with a cognitive illness like dementia or Alzheimer’s, then this is a non-starter. The person must know that they are working with their Last Will and Testament, they must understand the contents of that document, and they must appreciate the implications of what they are signing.
We would also recommend steering away from this approach if you are planning on making yourself a beneficiary in the Will, particularly if other people have an expectation that they will be beneficiaries, but are going to be disinherited. For example, if you are one of three siblings, and you want to help your elderly mother prepare her Will leaving everything to yourself, there is a good chance that the Will is going to be challenged and ultimately rejected by the courts. Likewise, if you are a care provider and planning to include yourself as a beneficiary, we would not recommend taking this approach.
You may have heard of the term “estate plan”. Perhaps you know it has something to do with your Last Will and Testament. But what exactly is an estate plan and how do you set one up?
In short, an estate plan is a set of documents that allow you to control your health and financial affairs when you are alive, but unable to handle them yourself, and also take care of your financial affairs after you have passed away. There are five classic documents that form a complete estate plan, but two additional documents that we feel, in 2016, that you should add to round out your plan.
They key word here is “plan”. These documents all allow you to describe what will happen if you are unable to take care of things yourself. You name individuals to take on your responsibilities and provide them with clear instructions on what to do. Which means that you can only prepare these documents when you have full mental capacity. You cannot wait until you no longer have capacity. If this ever happens to you, through illness or accident, it is then too late to prepare any of these documents.