We have all had to make changes to the way we live during this difficult time, and we have adapted our practice to be there in whatever way we can for our clients, by implementing work practices that follow the new regulations and social distancing guidelines.
The Covid 19 crisis has prompted many people to contact our office here in Cork enquiring about either updating their wills or making a will for the first time. The first question we are being asked is, is it possible to make a Will at this time? The answer is yes and we have worked on innovative solutions to deal with the legal challenges Covid 19 presents.
1. Why Make a Will and What Should Be Considered?
Again, as stated above, it is important for you to make a will because if you do not, and die without a will, the law on intestacy decides what happens to your property. A will can ensure that proper arrangements are made for your loved ones. It also ensures that your property is distributed in the way you wish after you die, subject to certain rights of spouses/civil partners and children.
When deciding to make a Will you should make a list of your assets, decide on who will be the executors/trustees of your estate and/or or testamentary guardians for children under the age of 18 (preferably two people), you should also ensure that your chosen Executors are willing to act.
2. How do I instruct you to make a Will?
Prior to Covid 19 clients usually attended in person to give instructions for their will. As this is no longer practical instructions can be given by telephone or email or for clients who prefer virtual face to face meetings through such apps as skype and facetime. A draft will can be prepared which the solicitor can email or post to the client for comment and approval. Once the final draft has been agreed with the client the next step is signing, or execution, of the will.
3. How to execute/complete a Will in the current environment?
· This has presented the biggest challenge but is a challenge that we continue to overcome through creative solutions which are also in accordance with the guidelines of the Law Society of Ireland. A will must be signed by the testator in the (physical) presence of independent witnesses (who do not benefit under the will) who must then sign in the presence of the testator. Both witnesses have to be present when the testator signs but they do not have to sign in the presence of each other, so a suitable distance can be maintained at all times. The witnesses need to see the testator sign their name. The witnesses can do this from a distance or, even, through a window, if this makes them feel more comfortable.
4. Where to store my will?
When your will has been executed we will store it in our fireproof facility in our office free of charge and will send you a letter or email confirming the reference number your will has been stored under.