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Protecting yourself and your family in lockdown: Can I make a Will or LPA during the pandemic?

As the world experiences unprecedented change, many people are concerned about protecting themselves and their family should the worst happen during lockdown.

Our Wills & Probate team are classed as ‘key workers’ and will do everything in their power to assist you during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Can I still make a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney during lockdown?

We are happy to obtain your instructions by telephone and advise on making a Will or creating a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Once we have received your final instructions, we will then send draft documents to you for your review. We would suggest that once you have received the draft, you again contact us by telephone in order that we can go through this with you, ensure the documents are correct and that you fully understand them. We will then send you the final documents for you to sign with comprehensive instructions on how to sign and have your signature witnessed. You can call us when you are doing so in case you have any questions during the process.

Who can I ask to witness my signature?

You need two witnesses for a Will to be valid. Witnesses must be over the age of 18, not related to you and not be a beneficiary under the Will or the spouse of a beneficiary. You and your witnesses should be present at the same time, see each other sign, but please keep in mind the government guidelines for social distancing.

For an LPA, an independent person over the age of 18 to whom you are not related, and who is not an Attorney, can witness your signature. You will also need a certificate provider to sign the LPA ideally at the same time as you. They can be a professional or someone who is not a relative, who you have known for at least two years. The witnesses for the attorney can be another attorney but we advise that the attorney's witness should be an independent person over the age of 18 to whom they are not related. Again, the government guidelines on social distancing should be observed.

What happens if I or a member of my family passes away during the crisis without a Will in place?

If, unfortunately, a Will is not in place when someone passes away, then the rules of intestacy apply. These set out who is entitled to deal with the estate and who is entitled to the money and property of the person who has passed away. The Rules of Intestacy are complex and we are happy to advise on these.

How will Probate proceed during lockdown?

We are still able to advise you and deal with obtaining probate. Again, we can take instructions over the telephone, the family/executors can send us the relevant documents by post, and we can start the process. In cases where we are already dealing with probate on your behalf, this will continue.

Although we are not currently able to offer face to face meetings, we can deal with matters via post, email, and telephone.

The above guidance is correct as at 25th March 2020 and we will update it as new announcements are made by the government. For further information, please contact our Wills & Probate team on 0113 201 4900, or via live chat on our website.

Elizabeth E Webb

Written by

Elizabeth E Webb

Head of Wills & Probate

Elizabeth is a Solicitor and Head of the Wills & Probate department. She was admitted to the roll of solicitors in 2004 and specialises in wills, trusts and estate planning and administration.  Born in the USA, Elizabeth began her working life with a military career in the United States Air Force and retired at...

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