03 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Video calls to be used for Wills and Powers of Attorney

Covid-19: Video calls to be used for Wills and Powers of Attorney

A relaxing of rules around video technology will help solicitors meet rising demand for Wills and Powers of Attorney.

Aberdein Considine has seen a sharp increase in instructions for these vitally important documents over the past four weeks.

However, the current ‘stay at home’ guidance has made it difficult for people to meet their lawyer, particularly if they are self-isolating or shielding from the Covid-19 virus.

In particular, it is creating challenges when it comes to signing documents, which is a vital part of a valid Will and Power of Attorney.

In response to Coronavirus outbreak, The Law Society of Scotland and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) have issued guidance which clears the way for video call technology to be used more widely.

This means that in most cases, we can now take instructions and witness documentation having met you virtually, through a video call.

Why do I need a Will or PoA?

Making a will is one of the most important things we can do - after all it determines how our most personal possessions and hard-earned savings will be shared among close family and friends.

It is often a simple and inexpensive process. But failure to make a will can pose major difficulties for those left behind, for instance, by paying more tax than necessary.

Your estate - money, other assets and possessions - could be distributed according to the law rather than your wishes. It is particularly important to leave instructions if you own property.

A Power of Attorney enables an individual to give other named people the power to act on their behalf. While normally this covers a situation where a person subsequently loses the ability to make decisions due to mental capacity, it can have a much wider use.

A Power of Attorney can allow a person to act on your behalf to carry out day-to-day tasks such as interacting with public and private organisations like the bank at a time when you are fit but self-isolating. This will be especially useful if you are in a vulnerable group and cannot leave your home.

Using technology to meet demand

Aileen Entwistle, a Partner in Aberdein Considine’s Private Client Group, has welcomed the changes.

“As a firm we are embracing and taking advantage of technology to continue to provide our clients with a much in-demand service,” she said.

“WhatsApp, Zoom and WebEx are just some of methods by which our private client solicitors are continuing to advise and assist our clients in preparing Wills and Powers of Attorney.

“While we are in lockdown or even if you are self-isolating we are still able to advise on most aspects of private client work.

“By using video conferencing, where appropriate we can take your instructions, email drafts to you and make arrangements for further video conferencing to arrange for your documents to be signed and witnessed.

“We are carefully following and adhering to the Law Society of Scotland Guidelines for the execution of documents and we can provide guidance on this.”

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