Covid-19 is an illness affecting the lungs and airways. The government and NHS are issuing constantly changing guidelines which we must adhere to. Part of the guidance is that we will practice social distancing or self-isolation if we have been in close personal contact with someone who has Covid-19 or have symptoms such as a high temperature or a new cough.
Those who are classed as at risk are those who are aged 70+, have a long-term condition, are pregnant or have a weakened immune system.
Our offices are now closed to the public in keeping with government guidelines, however our Wills and Estate Planning team are working remotely to continue to provide an effective provision of our legal services for both new and existing clients.
Measures have been taken so that we can take instructions by phone, email, video call (Skype or Zoom) or a combination of these methods.
One of the most vital parts of the will making process however is that the solicitor “knows their client”.
For example it would be inappropriate to take instructions from Granny Smith leaving all her estate to Bob if it’s Bob sending the instructing email! We still need the ID verifications (two for each client) and to take instructions from the clients themselves by the aforementioned methods. Instructions will not be taken from third parties.
Having taken instructions, we are able to send draft documents and explanatory letters by e-mail or by post.
One of the most difficult issues to contend with in a time of social distancing is how to get the wills signed. As our office car park is nearly empty, we have devised a drive-through will signing and witnessing scheme. You can drive to the Clarke & Son car park and park and remain in your car. You will wind down the window so your Will document can be handed to you to sign. Please bring your own pen. The two witnesses who will be our staff, will then witness whilst observing the two meter distancing rule. If you’re not known to your solicitor they will also verify your ID at the same time. Again so we check that we “know our client”
Points to note
In the event our solicitors need to self-isolate or are unwell we will do our best to give you as much notice as possible for any delay in sending you your draft documentation or rescheduling your will signing. We aim to get your draft documents to you within two weeks of your meeting
If you are able to organise your own witnesses please let us know. You may prefer this to the drive-through will signing service we are offering. You will need two independent witnesses who are not family and who do not benefit from your will. Instructions for the will signing process will be sent to you and upon the return of the documents to our offices they will be checked to make sure that the wills have been signed correctly
It may be that you are unable to get to the office because you do not drive and do not have anyone to call upon to witness your Will. In these circumstances we may be able to arrange for two members of staff to visit your home where we would stand two meters away from your front door to witness.
If you are attending the drive-through will signing please do not be alarmed if our staff wear gloves. If they do not wear gloves they will have washed their hands before and after the meeting
Visit to care homes and hospitals and hospices
This is extremely tricky at the moment as we know how vulnerable some of our clients are. The best advice is for you to contact the manager or supervisor of that particular care home or hospital ward. This will determine if they will work with you and us in order to find a workable solution for the client to be able to receive advice from us and to be able to sign documentation. Both the safety of our staff, our clients and the staff at the faculty remains paramount. If there is an option to visit a client in these surroundings then we will take the maximum precautions to protect ourselves our clients and any staff and carers. Please however be aware that it may not be possible for us to visit clients in these situations.
If you would like to speak to a member of our Wills & Estate Planning team please call 01256 320555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.