Private Client Solicitors Adapting To Social Distancing

In these unprecedented times, Wills and Probate professionals have been pushed to their limits.

The combination of increased demand and unconventional approaches to completing Wills whilst on lockdown has forced many practitioners to find innovative approaches.

Here at Today’s Wills and Probate, we have asked independent Will writers and private client solicitors to share their experiences in order to provide a collage of best practice.

Edward Allen, a senior associate solicitor at Langleys Solicitors, has considered working life under social distancing measures and has commented:

“During these unprecedented times where everybody is potentially at risk, individuals’ thoughts naturally turn to their own mortality and the need to ensure their estate planning is up to date. News stories about frontline NHS staff being encouraged to make sure they have their affairs in order also reinforces this. As a result, we have seen a 40% increase in future planning enquiries relating to the preparation of Wills.

“We are receiving enquiries from individuals who have never considered making Wills before but now wish to. We are also seeing an increase in enquiries from either existing clients that wish to update their Wills or from people that have discussed making Wills with us previously but did not complete those for one reason or another.

“Many have made Wills in the past but not reviewed them for a number of years with their circumstances having changed dramatically. The new enquiries received in the last week range from a single individual in their early 30s to a couple in their late 80s, showing the demand is coming from all age groups.”

“The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that the government’s definition of Key Workers involves solicitors who act in relation to the preparation of Wills. We appreciate the importance of being able to continue to provide such services to clients during this period of lockdown and we have taken steps to ensure we can still deliver the same level of client care as we have previously.

“We have done this by having robust business continuation procedures in place and by embracing technology that allow us to take instructions for Wills without meeting clients face to face. We conduct client interviews by phone and videoconferencing. We also have structured client questionnaires that allow us to obtain instructions by email.

“When it comes to executing a Will the formal requirements that apply are contained in a piece of legislation that is nearly 200 years old (The Wills Act 1837). This requires that the Will is signed in the presence of two or more independent witnesses. This can be challenging given the current requirements regarding social distancing. We have been able to provide clients who are self-isolating, and now everyone who is social distancing, with clear advice on how they can still execute their Wills in a way that complies with the legal formalities required.”

If your law firm or will writing business is successfully adapting to the ‘new normal’ despite difficult conditions and you would like to share your best practice, email [email protected]  and we will share it with the community.

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