Have you started your spring cleaning yet? The lovely sunny weather we enjoyed recently is certainly showing up the marks on my windows, but it is one of the jobs that I really don’t enjoy so I’ll put it off a little longer…

Many people have jobs they put off, because they are hard or take a long time, perhaps.  However, sometimes you find that actually the job was easier than you expected and the relief when you get it done is fantastic.  You can cross the job off the list and maybe even treat yourself to a reward!

The other day, I spoke to a lady in her 80s about making a Will.  She told me she had never made one, but had always wanted to, she just kept putting it off.  I reassured her that it was a painless process and that she would no longer have to worry about what was going to happen after she dies.  Her family will also be relieved to know that they can be certain what her wishes are and, when the time comes, what they have to do will be much more straightforward.

So many people have lost their lives in the last year.  Not being able to have more than a small number of people at the funeral or to have any way to commemorate a life is hard.  I wonder how many people who died had just never made a Will, planning to get round to it ‘one day’.  I expect that they would regret this if they could see how this has made dealing with their bank accounts, house, savings and policies that much more difficult for their loved ones. Also, there are some situations, such as cohabiting couples and blended families, where making a Will is extremely important.

Most Solicitors have been able to keep working during the pandemic to help people make their Wills, grant Powers of Attorney and deal with estates.  During the first lockdown, when everyone had to stay indoors, we had to adapt our ways of working very quickly.  Wills have to be signed with an independent witness present but, for many people, that was just not possible, as they were not leaving their house.  We managed to have video calls to see the person sign the Will, or to stand at the foot of the path while the Will was signed on the garden table!

Signing Powers of Attorney posed a particular problem as they have to be signed by the person, a Witness and a solicitor or doctor, all at the same time.  Special rules were brought in to allow this to be done by video call.

We noticed an increased number of calls about making Wills and Powers of Attorney and, perhaps, we were a welcome distraction from the monotony of being stuck at home or, at last, people had the time to catch up on their list of things they meant to do when they had the time.  I am sure that there are still quite a few people who could be taking advantage of the current situation to finally get a Will or Power of Attorney in place.

I have a word of warning for those of you who are concerned that their elderly parent or other relative is becoming increasingly forgetful.  We are more than happy to prepare a Power of Attorney while they still understand what it is they are doing.  However, it is taking the Office of the Public Guardian 8 months to register the documents and they cannot be used until they are registered.  If there is a genuine emergency, such as the person is in hospital and decisions have to be made about their care, you can ask for the application to rushed to the front of the queue, but even that may not be quick enough.

My advice is to stop putting off the call or email to the solicitor. Just get the ball rolling and I am sure you will be glad you got your Will in place, or updated.   It is particularly important for people who have no close family that they have a Power of Attorney, ready to be used, and they think about the options for their care in the future.  We are more than happy to continue to help you with this.

Liz MacKay

[email protected] or 01631 562308