How to manage your personal affairs during the coronavirus pandemic

… it is more important than ever in such extraordinary circumstances

How to manage your personal affairs during the coronavirus pandemic, Will, LPA, Certified Documents

In such uncertain times, the quote by Benjamin Franklin "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes" still holds true. If anything it is even more important to make sure that our affairs are in order and with the instructions from the government to 'stay at home', we have more time to do those tasks that we sometimes put off.

Can I still make a Will or update my existing Will if I can't visit a solicitor?

Yes. Usually when we prepare a Will for a client or clients we would meet in person at one of our offices to take instructions. We would take as much information as possible from the client(s) in order for us to be able to understand the full picture and for our client(s) to understand fully the implications of the Will.

However, in these very unusual circumstances, we are able to take instructions over the phone or via video-call. It is important to highlight that only you or your partner/spouse (if preparing Wills for a couple) should be present in the room at the time.

We will draft the Will and, once approved, send it back to you for signing. We will discuss how the Will needs to be signed where meeting you to sign is not possible.  We will also make sure that you are sent detailed and clear instructions on how it should be signed to make sure that it is valid. On receipt of the signed Wills from you we will check them to ensure this has been done correctly and then store the original Will in our deeds room and send you a copy for your records.

How can you verify my identity if I can't provide certified documents?

In order to start working for a client, we must have the correct identification documents on file. Usually when we meet with clients for the first time, we ask them to bring some form of photographic identification (passport or driver's licence) and a utility bill with them. Ideally we would always want to see the original documents, however, in the current circumstances we will accept scanned, emailed and even photographs of ID depending on what our clients are able to do.

What happens if I die without a Will?

Some people are reluctant to make a Will, either because they do not like thinking about their own death, or because they simply keep putting it off. We would advise everyone to make a Will to avoid creating additional problems for surviving family members and/or loved ones.

If you do not make a Will then the Intestacy Rules will apply to your estate and they will govern both who will be in charge of administering your estate and who will inherit it. These are complex rules which govern how the estate will be distributed between family members and there is no flexibility which may lead to people inheriting who you would not wish to or inheriting more or less than you would like them to.

Do I need Lasting Powers of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document that, depending on which one you have, allows you to appoint up to 4 people (Attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf if you are not able to do so yourself. Anyone over the age of 18 can make an LPA, if they have the capacity.

There are two different types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property & Affairs (LPA PA) and a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare (LPA HW).

Property and Financial Affairs LPA

This LPA allows you to nominate someone to make decisions on your behalf about your money and your property. Your attorney can also act for you while you still have the capacity to make your own decisions if it has been registered and you give your consent which can be useful if for example you are out of the country for long periods of time or have physical difficulty when managing your affairs.

Health & Welfare LPA

The LPA HW allows your attorneys to make decisions regarding your health and welfare, for example what medical treatment you should receive and where you should live if you no longer have the mental capacity to make such decisions for yourself. In addition you indicate in the form whether your Attorney should be able to give or or refuse consent to life sustaining medical treatment on your behalf. We are of the view that this LPA is just as important as the Property and Financial Affairs LPA and to have people in place that you trust to step in and act in your best interests should the circumstances arise.

It is important to note that an LPA can only be used, even in an emergency, when it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

We are pleased to confirm that, as with Wills, we can take your instructions for LPAs remotely by telephone. We will email you the completed forms to you to check and, once you have approved them, we will guide you through the signing process to make sure this is done correctly. Once they have been signed by everyone involved we will submit them to the OPG for registration.

For more information and advice about Wills and Lasting Power of Attorney, please contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team on 01733 882800 or email info@hcsolicitors.co.uk.

Author

Sally Power, Associate

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.