The development of technology combined with innovation means legal services such as making a Will are still available during the current crisis, says regional law firm Napthens. Simon Ainsworth, partner at Napthens and head of Private Client, said the firm’s experts have even visited clients to witness Wills through their house windows.
Keeping strictly within legal framework, the team solved the dilemma for a lady who was self-isolating due to having a serious underlying health issue, by driving to her house to witness her signing her Will through a window.
Simon said: “The Government has relaxed the rules on a few things but for witnessing a Will there is no way round it. A Will needs to be witnessed by two people who must together be ‘present’ when the person making the Will signs.
“In this case the witnesses must be physically present so doing it via a video-link is not acceptable and would make the Will invalid. The difficulty for some people comes when they are self-isolating and cannot physically ask someone else to witness their Will for them. Even those not residing alone and living with close relatives may struggle as a beneficiary under a Will cannot also be a witness.
“With the diverse formats of technology, we have been able to adapt our services such as Wills and Estate Planning to make sure there is a continuity of service for our clients and others wishing to access them.
“We would always ideally like to meet our clients face to face when making a Will to assess mental capacity and to ensure there has been no undue influence from a third party.
“Given the current situation due to coronavirus, we are using conference calls and video meetings using Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams to take instructions and provide clear advice and guidance to our clients. We are then using our imagination and agility to ensure Wills are then properly signed and witnessed.
“Our overriding position is to make sure Wills are valid and enforceable and we will not compromise on that.”
Simon added that Napthens is ‘very much open for business’ with team members available to offer specialist advice across its range of services in Private Client.
For more information of Napthens’ coronavirus support, visit the firm’s website.