There has been an increase in the number of people seeking assistance with writing their Will since the start of the Coronavirus crisis, it has been reported.
The Independent revealed that legal firms all over the UK have reported “dramatic increases” in the number of enquiries they’re receiving from people who want to write a Will, or review their existing arrangements.
According to the newspaper, the National Will Register has also reported an increase in searches for Wills by those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19. Having someone’s Will makes it quicker and easier to access any financial legacy, and also provides information about someone’s funeral wishes.
However, the news provider also noted that only 40 per cent of UK adults have a Will in place at all, and even among those who are past retirement age, approximately one-third still don’t have a Will in place.
But those who have written a Will aren’t always prepared, given that many people forget to update this important document when their lives change, such as when they purchase a new property.
It cited research by Royal London, which found that many people make false assumptions about what would happen to their assets on their death, and even about who would be charged with looking after their children if there was no Will in place.
For instance, two in five people believe that if they die without a Will, their children will automatically go to their immediate family. However, if both parents die, the courts will become legally responsible for any children under the age of 18 until a decision can be made about who their guardians should be.
The newspaper also pointed out that unmarried, cohabiting couples should make sure they have an up-to-date Will, because should one of them die, the other won’t be legally entitled to anything.
Today’s Wills and Probate revealed that the Law Society has reported a 30 per cent increase in requests for Wills, above what it would normally expect, since the start of the pandemic.
However, the news provider noted that the lockdown conditions are making it more challenging, because people are unable to meet with solicitors face-to-face in order to discuss their Will and have it witnessed.
In this instance, technology is proving vital, as it allows solicitors to talk to clients about their wishes. However, as Jessica Jamieson, a partner at Cripps Pemberton Greenish, explained, the current restrictions can make it difficult for a Will to be signed and witnessed.
Under current rules, a Will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries. Due to the lockdown in the UK, this could be difficult to arrange during this time.
Ms Jamieson commented: “Whilst it is possible to write a Will online, this will not address the issues regarding signing and capacity. In addition, clients should be careful about preparing Wills without taking legal advice.”
If you want some assistance with getting your estate in order, get in touch with Will solicitors in Surrey to find out how you can go about writing your Will at the moment, and to get legal advice on your personal circumstances.